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Tuesday, 22 September 2009

A 'boat' trip

I think health and safety would have something to say about this one, although I’m still alive and had a good day – so it was worth it!

As recommended by a VSO veteran, we decided to go on a boat trip down the Mekong river with an English speaking, ex-Buddhist, Christian local guide. There’s a Muslim island that’s known for its silk and a famous wooden temple (its name, or why it’s famous I can’t remember – it was hot). He had a big boat. And I use the term ‘boat’ in the loosest possible sense of the term. To call it a raft would have been a compliment.
The ten of us turned up ponchos in hand and ready to go. So, putting all fears of drowning out of my head we got on the wooden board with a mat on it and set off. It was a little wobbly, but once I’d put anything valuable I had on me in my dry-bag and we all sat very still I began to relax and enjoy it. Alas, there were no life jackets, no coast guard, ambulance service or indeed decent hospital, but I found that if I stopped looking at the young boy who had been employed to bale water out of the ‘boat’ or at the width and browness of the water, it was actually very pretty and there were a few Khmer laden boats of a similar quality out on the water. And we hadn’t sunk or capsized yet. I also decided that in case of emergency I could tie knots in the arms and neck of my poncho and would have something that might float, to hold on to.

We spent the best part of the day on the boat, stopping at both the island and the temple. We even had a race against the monsoon on the way back – it was really surreal, we could see rain behind us and rain in front of us, but for the most part the one patch of blue sky stayed above us and we remained dry. The boat made it! I’m not sure what the VSO country director would have made of our ‘calculated risk’ but for the healthy sum of $4 each it was a great experience, not one I’d do again in a hurry. But I’m glad I did it!
Photos: The back of the boat and the driver and me and Ilja, a Dutch volunteer.


  1. Very interesting-must remember to bring lifejackets!! What an adventure!

  2. I'm really glad we didn't know about this one until after the event....and I dread to think what predators were lurking below the surface of the water!
    love. mum and dad xx

  3. Jen that looks incredibly scary! Glad you are in one piece. Did you manage to get any photos of the monsoon? Take care, Jo xxx