There is a village commonly passed on by tourists though it seems to be in every guidebook. It’s called Kampong Luong and it’s a floating village near the town of Krakor. Part of the reason it gets skipped, I imagine, is because it’s a pain in the ass to get here. It’s half way between Phnom Penh and Battambang but you need to buy a ticket to that destination and just tell the bus driver you want off the bus early. So you pay the full amount to go half the distance. Ugh. Math.
We did it anyways. Because we were busy waiting for our Khmer Pictures to develop, we caught the 2:30pm bus to PP with Capitol Tours for $6usd. Krakor is roughly 3 hours away. We were the only ones who got off the bus here.
Naturally waiting for us at the bus stop is a few motorcycle taxis. We negotiate $2 each to go to Kampong Luong. It’s dry season and the lake is low so the village is actually moved -towed house by house by boats – about 7km further into the lake. The drive there is also around 7km.
You drive through an extremely poor stilt village to get there.
When you get to the dock/jetty area, a guy comes up to us with a tourism ID Card. He asks if we would like a home stay which we do! There’s a guesthouse in Krakor but I want to stay on a house boat tonight.
He presents us with three options, all of which offer the exact same: bed, mosquito net, restaurant and free WiFi… free WiFi? In the middle of the effing lake? Amazing. They are also all the same price: $6 per night.
We picked one at complete random, Seng Peng. We signed in and noticed there was only one other name for today that entered the village.
We take the slowest boat ride ever to the Home Stay. When we arrive we are greeted by a relatively shy family. They speak almost zero English but they are clearly happy to have us here to experience their village.
Our room is basic with a bed and mosquito net but we really don’t need anything more. The toilet is just a hole in the floor leading to the lake and there’s a bucket with water for you to shower. This home stay also doubles up as a convenience store where they have an impressive amount of random items. Toys, candy, gasoline and a pharmacy.
Upstairs on the roof is a hammock to relax in.
As we reached dinner, I wondered what we would get. Kristi failed to explain that she does not eat beef or pork so we’re left hoping for a vegetarian meal. They bring out steamed rice, two omelets and a bowl of soup with meatballs in it. I eat the soup and it was really good. Kristi doesn’t know what she’s missing out on.
The father, Seng Peng, spends an hour or so trying to communicate with us. I really wish we could speak Khmer. We don’t get very fair with the conversation but we do establish that we are from Canada and he is from Cambodia. Either way, it was a friendly and pleasant attempt at communication. I tried to log on to the WiFi and hopefully use google translate but there was no network. I was kind of disappointed and relieved at this. I’m too much of a nerd to just use the WiFi for google translate. Within minutes I would be checking Facebook and all kinds of other stuff I don’t need to do.
He then brought out a page with the village tour they offer. There are actually 2 sides to this village, a Khmer side and a Vietnamese side. You could take the tour around 1 side for $10 or both for $20. We opted to do both.
We slept poorly at night. The bed was fine but there’s a lot of noise we aren’t familiar with. The boats start around 5am and they are loud. Some so loud that it actually made my ears hurt. I imagine half the people here are legally deaf.
We laid in bed until about 7am and then came out for breakfast. Rice, omelets and fried fish. Not something I would eat every morning but they do say fish is brain food. Accompanied by some instant coffee and a bottle of water, we should be fine until lunch time.
We hop in the tiniest of boats barely big enough for Kristi and I. Our captain is Seng Peng’s son, Cena, who I’m guessing is around 14.
He drives us slowly through the villages.
There’s ladies with boats full of fruits
We see kids working? Playing?
The village has a crocodile farm
This is just normal everyday life here.
The tour is cool but disappointing all at the same time. Cool in the sense that we have never seen anything like this and it’s amazing being out on the water and taking it all in. Disappointing that Cena doesn’t speak English and more disappointing, I don’t speak Khmer, so we can’t ask him questions or learn anything about the village. I have so many questions!
The tour is about 2 hours long. When we finish we decide to head back to the bus and move on to Phnom Penh.
We arrange a tuk tuk driver for $3 back but I imagine we could have paid $2 as he gave the ID Card guy a cut.
At the bus they insisted we pay $5 to go to Phnom Penh. Apparently that extra 3 hours is only worth $1. I try to negotiate, he says “$5 or walk”. I guess we’re paying $5.
Our bill breakdown is:
$12 ($6 each) for bus to Krakor
$4 ($2 each) for motorcycle taxis to Kampong Luong
$10 to go into and out of the village
$6 for a room at the homestay
$8 for breakfast and dinner ($2 per meal per person)
$20 for our 2 hour boat tour
$3 for tuk tuk back to the bus station
$10 ($5 each) to bus to Phnom Penh.
Total = $73usd for 2 people.
We are heading back to Phnom Penh for the night and then off to Sihanoukville tomorrow.