The heat embraced us like a warm, winter blanket and the sweat was running down our neck and backs in small rivulets as we climbed on board Mr Marom’s tuk tuk. We had decided to venture out of town and watch the sunset over the nearby countryside.
Mr Marom knew a spot so we trusted in his local knowledge. It was no mean feat but worth the effort. The tuk tuk swung off the ring road, dodging trucks, motos, tuk tuks and bicycles coming at us from all directions, and onto the lake road (I’m yet to learn the correct road names). Far from a quiet rural road, the dust was so thick it was crunchy if you had the misfortune of getting it in your mouth. It stuck to our sweaty pores and added unnecessary volume to the hair, which was rapidly starting to feel like steel wool.
The road is being widened and upgraded to an impressive concrete strip and trucks loaded with construction equipment, blue stone and dirt, thundered past with horns blaring. Tour buses honked their horns impatiently as they skimmed past with inches to spare. The village houses lined the edge of the road and homes and stores were blanketed in the thick dust.
But finally we passed the bedlam and found ourselves in a more tranquil rural setting. Bars and restaurants lined the road with hammocks set up overlooking the fields. On the other side, lotus flower stretched for miles and women were selling the lotus fruit at stalls on the side of the road.
The lotus is revered in Buddhism, with different coloured lotus flowers having different meanings.
The flowers are often given as an offering at temples and shrines but you must not smell the flower first.
The fruit is also popular and you will find it for sale at markets.
The fruit has many seeds, which look and taste very much like a fresh pea or a bean. They are usually eaten fresh but some, I think the older fruit, are cooked and are sweeter.
For 1000 riel (US 25 cents), you can wander into the lotus farm and wind your way between the many vibrant plants and view them at all stages.
The flowers grow here in the dry season. In the wet season these fields will be inundated with water as Lake Tonle Sap overflows.