“No sir, no Sir, you cannot rent a fishing boat, they are not for holiday makers, you must go on big boat” . I wanted to go ride on a Sampan. I have always wanted to ride on a Sampan and it looks as if my chances of doing so are running out. Not too many days left in Sampan Country. There were many boats for hire, sort of small to medium cruise vessels, complete with full bar, garish lights, tables and chairs for between thirty and seventy five, they are mostly used for dinner cruises up and down the river, at night. This is not what I had in mind at all. “There is one” says I, Oh no Sir he is busy. Well he didn’t look busy, in fact there was no-one on board at all and the whole craft had a somewhat disheveled look, crates and boxes everywhere, random curtains spread about, old bits and pieces, it was a bit of a wreck, almost a garbage dump. A shouted conversation took place from the top of the bank to the bottom. I imagine it went something like “Look at this crazy person, he does not want to spend an hour on the river in a luxury cruise boat, he wants to ride in your fishing boat with no bar, not even a chair”. Ah well, canny fisherman sees a quick buck in sight, ok, ten dollars for an hour, that’s more than I would earn in an hour fishing, lets do it, crazy person or not. Frantic rushing about, junk hurled onto adjoining fisher boat and in about a minute the Sampan was ready to go.
I embarked, given a bottle of water and two beers in a cooler and shaking his head my Captain shoved off. Out into the stream of the Tonle Sap before it merges with the Mekong a half mile down stream and is gone forever. It was exactly what I wanted.
We puttered down the middle of the river and looking over at the bank I could see all the people on the riverfront parade , I could almost hear the comments.
Undeterred we puttered on and reached the confluence of the two rivers, it got a little choppy.
I did finally Skype the younger son this evening and told him this brief, one hour tale. Sebastian commented ” Well Dad, that sounds like a life’s ambition achieved”
Too right Seb, too right.