Snippet: On the Mekong

February 14, 1955

Phnom Penh, 1971. Junction of the Tonle-Sap and Mekong right of centre.

Today Cecile, Howie and I went for a boat ride with a French friend here in Phnom Penh. We left the office at noon, had a light lunch, changed and met at the dock shortly before 1 o’clock. Claude (our French friend) arrived in his boat a few minutes later and we all climbed in. It was quite a nice boat, seating five persons and had a 25 h.p. Johnson outboard motor. Well, anyways, we all got settled and away we went. And I do mean away we went! Golly that motor was powerful. The prow was always out of the water, even with Cecile sitting right up front! We didn’t have to be back to the office until 3:30 so we had two full hours of water, wind and bright sunshine. I must admit just  be a little leery of returning to Ottawa right about now for fear of being mistaken for an Indian and shipped out to a reservation! Oh, am I ever brown!!  Well for two solid hours we explored the coasts of the Tonle-Sap and Mekong Rivers. If you’ll get out that map I sent you of Phnom Penh you’ll see that we are situated just at the joining point of the Tonle-Sap and Mekong. All along the river banks it was thick jungle and palm trees with native huts nestled in amongst the trees. We passed dozens of Chinese junks (“Terry and the Pirates” variety) and many, many smaller fishing vessels. Some of the Cambodians ride about in canoes made of a single hollowed-out log! Real primitive. All along the shore we could see brown faces peering out at us through the trees and were fortunate enough to even see some of these people drying out their fishnets – which, incidentally, is quite a lovely sight. Their nets are huge things and when they are stretched out to dry they’re really quite beautiful to look at.

The Mekong at Phnom Penh

The Mekong at Phnom Penh


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