Visiting the Family of 

Bonthong, Sombarn, and Sokhun

February 2012


Last year when I was in Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) I became friends with Bonthong and Sombarn.  This year I met their sister Sokhun.  They asked if I'd like to visit their "homeland," a 4-hour journey from Siem Reap, near the northern tip of Tonle Sap, a large lake.  

I leapt at the chance.

We were joined by Eileen, an American woman who has spent a good deal of time in Cambodia, helping out with various educational projects, and by a friend of the family, Sophal.




The trip was an hour by tuk tuk


that most versatile Cambodian taxi 



and 3 hours by boat









The road trip was through peaceful agricultural land




with a minor Cambodian traffic jam




We arrive at our port, board our boat






and head out


27-second video

We leave port




sharing the river with fellow travelers



Before long we encountered heavy concentrations of floating vegetation



We tried pushing through it






But the propeller got tangled in the weeds


5-second video

Heading through the tangle







10 minutes of sustained pushing and pulling, though, and we were again free

13-second video

Thru a narrow channel




and once again passing friendly river people




passing a floating village

9-second video

Floating Village



and we arrive at the home of Kan and her family

this is also part of a floating village, Thvang




Kan (the woman) is a cousin of Bonthong, Sombarn, and Sokhun




their family business is batteries, with the noise from the generators sounding much of the day



after some minutes we head to shore, where we hear music coming from a wedding celebration

We head that way and encounter a gathering place that sells snacks

We hang out there, having fun with the kids 


13-second video

Hanging out with the kids

with Eileen in a cameo appearance


23-second video

Clowning with the kids



who are sooo alive, sooo vibrant






then we arrive at the wedding tent, where the wedding party is seated



and we're immediately invited in by the master of ceremonies, and given front-row seats of honor




Eileen thought the groom looked a little scared



the venerable master of ceremonies stirs the love potion

and offers up some incantations


12-second video

Master of Ceremonies stirs the love potion




after which there's a bit of pageantry--singing and acting a bit of approach/avoidance


30-second video

The dance pantomime


but then they seemed to reach an accord

30-second video

The next dance




on the way back to Kan's house we visit a crocodile farm, a burgeoning industry in this traditional fishing village


13-second video

We visit a crocodile farm



and after Sombarn and Bonthong take a refreshing plunge




we sit down to a dinner of fresh fish, rice, and veggies




and after a last round of goodbyes and picture taking




we again board our trusty craft




piloted by this redoubtable gentleman




and head back through the world of river villages, intriguing combinations of floating and on-shore structures



29-second video

Floating Village




again enjoying the company of people for whom the river is their world


29-second video

The trip home




and after docking we travel a few kilometers to the home of an uncle of Sokhun, Bonthong, and Sombarn



a small man who has aged well






and after half an hour of family reunion, we head home

Next          A Family on the Edge

Cambodia 2012 index 

Lee's home page