Thu 27 Oct 16 - Thu 27 Oct 16
I chose the Mekong River cruise by G Adventures because of the price and the stated values and objectives in their online brochure. I had never been on a cruise before and always had been a DIY kind of guy, so I didn't have any idea on what to expect... but I thought this would be a good way to see the area between Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City.
Myself and the other travelers met at a fancy hotel near the airport and were herded onto a bus with our luggage. It was a strange ride because the roads got smaller and worse as we went along. After about a half hour we ended up at a small floating pier on Tonle Sap Lake. Kenny, our CEO (Chief experience Officer) then got us onto a small, rough boat lined with flimsy deck chairs; here is the captain with his children as part of the crew.
This boat, like all the others have some strange contraption at the back to lower the propeller into the water, and he started it, and off we went to find our cruise boat .
Tonle Sap Lake, during the dry season is 250 square KMs with an average depth of 1.5 meters, but this being the rainy season grows to 12,000 square KMs ... and it was "water as far as the eye could see", except for a few village clusters of house boats, just off the shore.
After about 15 minutes of cruising, we arrived at our boat, the Toum Tiou II, anchored in deep water, waiting for us..
One of the things that concerned me was that I would be sharing a cabin, (single supplements were designed to be prohibitively expensive), but the ship only holds 28 passengers, and luckily for me I was the only single male traveler, so I when I arrived at the boat, I was happy to find a whole cabin to myself.
We soon set off and the heat of the late afternoon was mitigated by the breeze we created as we cruised. The clouds started closing in just before supper time, and there were some ominous dark gray patches and sheet lightening in the sky, as we went into the dining room for supper.
Weather on a shallow lake can turn nasty quite quickly, and as we ate, the rain and the wind both showed their fury... We could see it from inside, but only when we left the comfort of the dining room, could we feel the torrential rain and the strength of the wind. It was so strong in fact that when it slammed the dining room door, glass in the door shattered. That pretty much sent almost everyone back to their rooms.
During the night, the boat was buffeted by the wind and waves, even after it anchored at Chnok Tru around 10PM. Fury like that however, tends to wear itself out and by 5 AM the hardy souls who had gotten up early, we're rewarded with a beautiful sunrise .