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Oudong - Kampong Tralach - Ko Chen - Sunday, 5 February 2017

Cruise from Phnom Penh to Prek K'dam and visit the ancient capital of Oudong to visit the mountain stupas, pagoda and monastery

sunny 34 °C

We are tied up at a river bank and as we woke up, we saw our transport for the morning, grazing on the river bank - oxen.

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Phil actually graced us with his presence this morning but he didn't want to ride in the ox cart, so he went in a tuk tuk. So did Ingrid and Elfie as Ingrid's back wouldn't have done too well in an ox cart.

Mao took me to the front of the queue so I would avoid the dust - very thoughtful guide.

The ox cart ride took about 30 minutes, mostly on a sealed road and it wasn't too bad at all. As we arrived at the buses, the children ran out with gifts for us that they had made from the reeds. i received this thing (not sure what it is) and Phil received a ring. Very clever. We have been told not to give them money or gifts, because if they think they can make a living from the tourists, then they won't go to school, but to speak to them in English, so they can practise.

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On the bus for the ride to Oudong Temple. Oudong was the royal residence and Cambodia's capital for more than 250 years until 1866.

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Cambodia is largtely a Buddhist country, practised by around 95% of the population. The religion is based around more than 4,000 monastery temples in the country. They are known as Pagodas or Wats and are administered by the monks.

Part of our visit today was a blessing by the monks. We had to take our shoes off and sit on the floor. Mao asked them some questions about their lives in the monastery and how old they were (74 and 23) and how long they are been there. The old one will be here for the rest of his life and the young one will probably leave in a couple of years to get married.

We all sat on the hard floor, many of us wondering how on earth we were going to be able to stand up again! After Mao had asked all the questions, the monks started the blessing chant, which went for about 10 minutes, then they started throwing lotus petals and flower buds at us. The language of the chant was Pali, which is related to Sanskrit.

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Then Mao showed us how the monks tie their robes. We then had photos taken with the monks and with Mao. In the case of Mao, we were allowed to touch him, because he is a "fake monk" these days. Women aren't allowed to touch the monks and Herman took my photo with the real monks, but I had to ask him to help me stand up again, as I couldn't lean on the monks. The joys of ageing!!

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Mao was once in the monastery as a young man, but now he is married with children. He told us that when he reaches the end of his life, he and his wife will both move into a monastery and live separately. It's a bit like our Retirement Villages in Australia, however, these are free and you give up everything to enter them but your family can still come and visit. Seems like a good idea.

After our blessing, we went outside again, into the heat. It is really hot and we were glad to have umbrellas from the bus for shade. I hate wearing hats as I think they make you hotter.

We poked our heads into the huge room where the monks and nuns were having lunch. Smelt pretty good. Then we wandered down to the nuns' living quarters and then back to the bus and back to the ship in time for lunch. At 1 pm, we set sail for Phnom Penh.

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Phil and I went for another massage mid afternoon. This was my third and it was an aromatherapy one. We had $300 on board credit this cruise and spent $260 of it on massages. Lovely! There was nothing else we wanted to spend it on anyway.

We went up to the sun deck for a disembarkation briefing and port talk by Paula and then were entertained by Pavel, a singer/guitarist. After a while, the selfconsciousness wore off and some of us got up to dance, with Paula and the guides. It was great fun and there was a cool breeze blowing too.

After dinner, we participated in the Scenic Spirit Trivia Night. We had about 16 in our team (Poms, Aussies, Americans and Canadians) all bases covered you would think. However, with so many in the team, there were a lot of conflicting answers and disagreements, but in the end, we tied for first place, which made the Captain of our Team, Peter the Pom, quite happy. We won a bottle of Mekong Liquour to share but I went to bed and didn't get to try it.

In hindsight, we would have been better forming our own Aussie team, because we have some pretty smart Aussies on board.

Posted by gaddingabout 06:53 Archived in Cambodia

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