The Other Group Tour at Siem Reap

Siem Reap was quite an amazeballs, a jar full of red-blue-green poppins experiences with equally sweet creamy people. Previously I spoke of my break the dawn venture across the city, today’s post is about the west side of a day and another group tour I went for.

This from afternoon till sunset tour was about the terrains, the flora and faunas around Siem Reap city. We started with the floating village where we saw a village still pacing slowly behind time and life there was still peaceful among numerous adversities.

This particular group was a mix, few solo travellers which even included that Korean girl from the previous day who hardly had spoken to anyone and this was the third time I met her in the last 36 hours; then there were few friends group of 3 in each group coincidentally, one or two couples and the same guide form the day before. When with friends, they come first, and rest may mind their own business; but even after that, this group had that Monday-blue-even-exists-on-holiday sort of vibe; though many of them were students there (how did I know? I’ll come back)! The tour was indeed on a Monday, so assuming that weekdays and weekends do have their own customary effect irrespective of place, purpose and age.

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After the village tour, we were taken to a pier floating in the middle of the river; just like that, mangrove forest at one side, by which a small pier floating and nothing else around, except the opaque runny river. So the reason for dumping us is this ghost’s court which at that moment was very chaotic, crowded and busy; was to take us for a mangrove tour. For this mangrove tour a canoe boat had to be hired, each boat would allow maximum two persons plus the boatman or boat-woman, so two people could share the boat or one person could hire the entire 8X2 foot boat for oneself.

‘If you are travelling alone, you can find someone who wants to share the boat with you.’ The guide declared to our group.

‘Will anybody prefer sharing?’ I kind of mumbled those words to myself expecting no one to hear.

‘I can share.’ An eager voice mumbled to my ears just immediately and taking the hint I looked up,

‘Will you share with me then?’

‘I won’t mind, in case you are also ok.’ A tall robust lady, fair peach skin, may seem brash at first but soft creamy was her voice.

‘I’m fine’

‘Let’s go then.’

We got into our barge, the boatwoman first, followed by the lady, then me chose to sit behind. The boat ride was through the constricted water-ways in between that superfluous mobbed green mangrove. The water-ways were so narrow at places that the boat will actually slam into the old tree trunks; in some places we would hold the stooping green branches with our hands in order to shield our no-attention-necessary hairstyle; the forest was so quiet, not even we heard a bird chirping nor we saw one flying across. Far away close to the horizon and between the holes of clustered leaves the sun was slowly diving down radiating our faces honey gold.

‘It’s so quiet here!’ My co passenger had immediately started talking as soon as we entered the deep mangrove.

‘It is. Can’t even hear a bird’s call.’

‘You are right. Thankfully I’m not doing this tour alone, it’s good to have someone in this silence.’

‘You are right. It’s good to hear voices. We are not used to of this quietude.’

‘Where are you from?’

‘I am from India.’

‘Aww, India, you know I want to go to India, hopefully I can go soon. I am German by the way.’

‘Oh, Germany, they make the best of the roadways across the world.’

‘Oh yes! But now I live is Switzerland and I love that country.’

‘Oh, chocolate and ice-cream. Oh, I’m hungry.’

‘Oh, I love Swiss chocolate, the best in the world. But you know what, Germans are considered to be very rude!’ Like I thought!

‘Do they?’

‘Oh yes, because of our faces, we are so grim faced.’ I hope she wasn’t a legilimens, I haven’t learnt occlumency yet.

‘That’s funny.’

‘No no, I’m telling you. Ooh what are those boats for?’

‘Ohh, these are floating shops I guess! They are stopping the boats to sell snacks in the mid of this jungle! Wow!’

‘In the mangrove, floating shops, are you kidding? Oh, they are stopping each boat! What to do?’

‘Just do what the Germans do. Grim face and no smile at all. You can manage?’

‘Grim face and no smile, I think I can manage.’

Our boat was stopped and dragged by hand to a floating shop just like the other tourists, a lady was selling chips, biscuits, cakes from her store. ‘You buy anything?’

With our stoic face denying any purchase we moved on, and my co-passenger was victorious,

‘That was easy. I will do it better this time. Grim face and no smile..’

**** **** ****

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‘The sunset was amazing, wasn’t it?’

While coming back after the tour, a thin, hair till her neck, studious looking little girl sat beside me. She was on this tour with two other friends of her.

‘Yes, it was quite different from what I have seen so far.’

‘How did you like the floating village?’

‘Surprised definitely, I didn’t expect such hardships.’

‘Yes, I kind of fell like a trespasser you know, I mean we are coming from affluent families, well brought up, and then we come so see these people, still under privileged. They may feel mocked by us.’

‘Yes, may be. It actually is painful. We on the other hand are quite blessed.’

‘Yes. Are you a student?’

‘No. I’m done with my studies long back.’

‘Oo, I thought you study. Where are you from?’

‘I am from India. Are you a student?’

‘Yes, I am actually from Norway. My friends and I came to Hong Kong for further studies. But with the current situation, the institutions are shutting down. So we had to leave.’

‘Then how will you complete your course?’

‘So, our university has given us an open certificate, with this we could complete the rest of our study from anywhere in the world. So we went to Thailand, did few classes and finally we finished it here. Today was our last exam. Now we will move to the island to chill for a week and then we go back to our home for Christmas.’

‘Oo, so which island are you going to?’

‘We are leaving tonight. We will go to Sihanoukville and from there to an island.’

‘Nice. So after this, you will start working?’

‘Till now that’s the plan. Let’s see.’

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