Boat ride to Battambang

The morning after Nate departed. I hopped a boat ride to Battambang that was supposed to be the most beautiful in Cambodia and estimated in the guide book to take between 5 and 9 hours. Southeast asia is currently in the dry season and the boat ride was safely at the 9 hour mark with our heavy load of passengers and rice for small towns along the way. It was pretty amusing that the boat had to stop every few minutes to "ask" (honk) fishermen to move their nets or wait for one of the crew to use large sticks to get us un-stuck from the bank where branches often sideswiped dozing passengers.

At the beginning of the ride we passed through Tonle Sap lake - which is Cambodia's largest freshwater lake producing a significant amount of fish for the country all year round. This lake is attributed to be a primary source of sustenance for the great Angkor empire.

The river is lined with floating fishing villages. The houses move significant distances every year as the rivers swell and ebb in size. They float on bundles of bamboo sticks that need to be removed and dried every 3-5 years to stay "floaty"

These giant-insect like cantilevered fishing nets were present all along the river and were often constructed as a floating house / giant fishing net combos. Definitely makes for a short commute to work...I think I would miss getting to ride my bike though.

I really liked how well organized all these floating houses were. Every kitchen area I could see into had a spot on the wall for each pan. I suppose when you have a family with several children and grandparents living in a tiny space where you often can't stand up, it is helpful if it is tidy.
While we were passing through a bird sanctuary I came to the front of the boat and sat with my feet on the edge, being careful not to get in the captain's line of sight as I had seen him use the horn on several passengers already. I saw a whole bunch of white herons, some large black birds, but the strangest birds are the ones I would see in a few days as I biked along the Mekong.
My main boat-companion, Kev (who I would meet up with 2 days later in Phnom Penh), filled a good part of our 9 hour trip with his tales of his 3 months of cycling and hitchhiking adventures through China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.
Below, Kev is preparing for the next day and tutoring me on the finer points of hitchhiking logistics and philosophy. The logistics were amusing and may be useful someday but the philosophy is what I found really interesting because it relates to the reading I have been doing on honest and empathetic communication (Nonviolent Communication by M. Rosenberg...thanks for the recommendation, Chris!!!)
The idea is that when you hitchhike you are showing your vulnerability and others are able to give you a pure gift of a generous act. This makes them feel good because they have been generous and it makes you feel good because you have shared your vulnerability with another human being as asked for help. As a bonus, you often get going in the direction you were hoping to go and sometimes get to share a meal or a place to sleep.

No worries, parents, I am not planning to switch to a new primary mode of travel - since I do think there is another dimension added for single female travelers. However, the principle of the entirely generous exchange on both sides is very appealing to me.

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