The food on the Avalon Siem Reap has been incredible. I start my mornings off with a shot of espresso, a made-to-order omelet with fresh Thai chili peppers, and I’ve become a big fan of dragon fruit and fresh coconut milk. So refreshing. Then for lunch, we come back to the ship after excursions and the buffets are amazing. I’ve eaten Phở and this yummy local salad for lunch that was so amazing (it’s made up of seafood, shaved Brussels sprouts, shaved broccoli and leeks). Dinners are full of variety. We usually get to choose from five local dishes, and my favorite have been Australian lamp chops, meat lasagna and seared duck breast in Phở. Plus, all dinners are complemented with unlimited wine! If someone is a little anxious about trying one of the foreign dishes, the chef is more than willing to cook grilled chicken, steak or a salad. It’s a tasty way to become acquainted with the culture.
Consuming all this food has fueled me for the excursions we partake in every day. Yesterday, we saw a glimpse of the historical atrocities inflicted on the Cambodian people at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum which was once the site of a prison during the Khmer Rouge regime. In the afternoon, we learned more about the Cambodian history, but this time, in regards to their silk weaving. The group visited the village of Prek Bang Kong where silk weaving is a well-preserved tradition. We spent time in a house and learned about how silk is produced during a silk weaving demonstration. We were even able to buy handmade gifts like silk and Khmer scarves (traditional Cambodian scarves) that I will be bringing back for friends and family. I’m appreciating all this time spent with the locals. Learning about their history through native voices makes this trip even more extraordinary.
Today we visited Wat Hanchey, a temple dating back to the 8th century and the Chenla Empire. All visitors to the temple are expected to have their knees and shoulders covered. The temple is located on a hilltop, where we got to enjoy stunning views of the surrounding area. We received a traditional water blessing given by local monks, who chanted and sprinkled water over the group and tied a red and yellow bracelet on each person’s arm.
After the blessing, we took a walking tour through the rural village of Angkor Ban where we saw traditional Khmer houses and visited a local school. We were greeted yet again by smiling faces, and you really can’t help but feel joyful around these children. I felt so fortunate to be in their presence and I can tell the group is still beaming from our day of multiple blessings.
I’m going to sit back, relax and enjoy the view from my stateroom as we sail along the Mekong. Until next time!
All photos courtesy of Danny Blair.