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As discussed in my previous post, I have been GRANDPAcking in S.E. Asia for a while now and I have done so whilst keeping well under budget.
It is now time to spend some of those savings on LIVING a bit…
The plan is to:
- Take a Hobycat from Otres Boat Club (OBC) on Otres 2 Beach up the river estuary at Koh Thmei into Preaek Tuek Sab river (a distance of about 30kms)
- Sail up river as far as the National Highway 4 bridge
- Overnight at the bridge
- Take transport from there to the Ream National Park waterfall
- Meet up with our kayaks (which will be delivered there by separate Tuk Tuk)
- Kayak down river from the waterfall back to our camp at the National Highway 4 bridge
- Leave the Hobycat at the bridge
- Tuk Tuk ourselves and our Kayaks back to OBC
THE BOAT TRIP:
We set sail at 10:30am. The wind was on-shore but very light which forced us to slowly make our way out to sea between Koh Tres (Otres Island) and Koh Chanloh (Deer Island).
(in the distance far left is the tip of Koh Ta Kiev island)
Due to continued lack of wind, we could not cut landward of Koh Ta Kiev, so we kept windward of Deer Island and all of the islands along the way (Bamboo Island, Koh Ta Kiev, and Koh Sramaoch) all of the way to the rivermouth.
(looking back at Bamboo Island)
It took a slow 1 hour to sail the 4km to Deer Island. It took another slow 1 hour to Bamboo. It took another slow 1 hour to Koh Ta Kiev. We had been sailing for 2½ hours before we lost sight of Otres Beach. That was only 1/3rd of the way…
We discovered that every time we talked about beer, the wind picked up. So we talked about beer as much as possible and sung a few beer songs (even though, to everyone’s disgust, we had no beer aboard)…
Needless to say, this was not as fast as we were hoping. The journey was broken by flying fish (one must have flown about 50 metres), big purple jellyfish, one ant and one fly.
(the farthest point at Koh Ta Kiev)
When we reached Koh Ta Kiev’s farthest point, the wind and waves finally started to pick up. As we passed Koh Sramaoch we negotiated a small fleet of local fishing boats that were trawling with their nets.
As we passed the Naval Base, we did some wave surfing. We played at wave surfing for the best part of an hour. It was here that we looked back behind us to see every point of every island that we had sailed past.
When we spotted Silver Beach, we knew that we were nearly at the rivermouth.
THE RIVER TRIP:
(approach to Koh Thmei and the rivermouth)
We finally entered the rivermouth at about 5:00pm. The channel between the rivermouth and Koh Thmei was marked by white flagged sticks poking out of the water. We kept between the sticks until we saw similar markers to guide us up river. More sticks marked the zig-zag route up the river between the sandbanks.
(fishermen on the river)
When the sticks stopped, we took a wrong route and got caught on sandbanks. A local fisherman spotted us and pointed out the correct way. We managed to get free with a bit of hard paddling.
(typical rivermouth view)
By sunset (6pm) there was a lightning storm threatening to starboard; we were hoping that it was going to be close enough to give us some decent wind. Alas, no. So, DC and I take a bow each and get paddling.
We majestically paddle upstream into a vibrant red-orange sunset which reflected in full off of the motionless river that lay in front of us. The sunset filled 50% of our vision.
As darkness fell, our paddles, the front bows, and the rudders glowed as they disturbed fluorescent plankton in the water. For 100s of meters, 100s of small fish danced ahead of our bow as if they were leading the way…
Finally, we hear the bridge traffic and shortly after that the bridge comes into view. We reach our destination just as it gets dark at 7:30pm. We had been sailing for 9 hours.
(fishing boats at the Bridge)
At the bridge, we meet friends of Mike’s wider family. They provide our roof for the night and a couple sunbeds and a hammock for us to sleep on.
(a typical house on stilts over the river)
After all of the beer-talk on the boat, we were ready for a cold one so we popped over the road to a little shack. There we sat drinking beer and having a laugh with the locals for an hour or two.
It was too late for them to cook us any food, so DC jumps on the back of a scooter and picks up some take-aways from the nearest KTV (karaoke) bar.
(the view from where we stayed)
We sit on the decking over the river with our new=found friends and eat a welcome meal (it had been over 13 hours since we last ate at breakfast). Whilst we sit, eat, drink, and talk one of our friends pops off and comes back with a live prawn in his hands. DC gets the dubious honour of eating it raw only seconds after it stops wriggling.
Come 11pm we are all ready for bed.
THE KAYAK TRIP:
The next morning our 3 kayaks from Otres Beach Club were on a Tuk Tuk and on their way to the Ream National Park Waterfall.
Mike’s wife (Suki) turns up in a car to pick us up to go and join the kayaks. However, she gets a call on her mobile… the Tuk Tuk is not allowed past the Ream Park check-point with the kayaks… kayaks are not allowed on the river at the waterfall… bugger. This is a ‘voyage of discovery after all… none of the locals know of anyone attempting what we were attempting to do.
(river huts north of the Bridge)
We fall back to Plan B… we drive up a riverside track from the Bridge as far as we can go towards the waterfalls, launch the kayaks, kayak up the river a while and turn back to the Bridge.
DC slaloms a few mangrove tree roots and falls in the water on his first attempt. You should have seen the speed that he got back into that kayak! It was hilarious.
(typical river tributary)
After 3 hours of kayaking on peaceful waters (with picture-card mirror reflections in the water), we arrive back at the Bridge.
A Tuk Tuk picks us up and drops us off at Mike’s family home. More beers with some friendly locals.
A Tuk Tuk takes our kayaks back to OBC. Suki arrives to take us home.
We agree that we have to do another trip…