Wednesday, January 4

Chong Koh village, Cambodia

Season’s greetings. I hope everyone has a safe and happy year.
The weather around Christmas was atrocious on Rarotonga; it rained heavily for about a week and on one day at least we had over 100mm. It wasn’t cold rain but you’ve still got to feel sorry for the holidaymakers who were looking forward to a sunny tropical island paradise and ended up with daily downpours.
Still, it gave me the opportunity to get back to some holiday videos of my own.
This one is from the journey on the MV Mekong Pandaw, a river boat that travels along the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia.
After leaving the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, the boat motored further upstream to Kampong Cham, stopping for a morning for an excursion to Chong Koh village.
The blurb describes Chong Koh as a ‘typical Khmer river community, which is famous for its weaving production’.
It’s probably not all that typical any more since a large number of cruise boats visit it every week. However, the people are still charming and friendly as they attach themselves to individual passengers and set about selling souvenirs.
The Bhuddist temple (wat) in the village is ornate and well cared for and has a monastery with quite a few young monks. (We saw lots of monks in Cambodia but very few in Vietnam.)
The primary school is run-down with not much in the way of resources but the children are delightful. The ones in the video are about 9-years-old. We took along some pens, pencils and notepads to add to their supplies.
Our guide asked one pair what their ambitions were: the boy wanted to work for government, the girl in a garment factory.
There are two school sessions each day so many of the kids who sell weaving in the morning will be going to school in the afternoon.
Primary education is free but uniforms are compulsory so some of the poorer families might not be able to send their children to school and very often once the kids can read, write and calculate they will leave school, but everywhere we went we saw schools and schoolchildren; they were especially noticeable in bike-loads on the roads round about midday which is the change-over time for school sessions.