Our ship, The Pandaw 2, takes the phrase “at a leisurely pace” to new extremes. At times it is hard to tell that we are moving and every other boat on the river overtakes us, even the little one man fishing boats. At some point we expect to see a row boat go past. The four of us sit on the sundeck in the reclining chairs, a drink in hand, surrounded with staff, and watch the life on the river bank as it slowly passes by. We have never felt so decadent and we agree that we are taking indolence to a new level.
At 4pm, we stop at a small village called Ohn Ne Choung, and are free to wander round for an hour. There is no dock, and the ship merely pulls into the river bank and throws out a gang plank.
We cross it and climb the steep sandy bank to find the village. The houses are the usual two room affairs made of bamboo and rattan. Each has a large fenced area around it with either a pig, or an ox tethered in the yard, or the well to do have both, plus chickens. It’s a bit like having your car and dinner sitting in the garden. There are narrow lanes between the houses often lined with trees making it very picturesque. There are some wider roads to allow the ox and cart to travel through it. The ground is very fine dirt, almost sand like, and so everywhere is dusty. There are a few power lines and no running water or sewer pipes. All the water is taken from the river, which is filthy. There is a constant stream of people going down to the river to fetch water in two pails hanging from a bamboo pole strung across their neck.