Raft complete with makeshift sail
Dan covering up
Carrying felled banana trees
Aligning trees for the raft
Engineering drawingSwimmin'Tom Sawyer heading westAssembling the raft with some local helpTransporting banana trees to the building areaCutting down banana treesFun on the raftPushing the raft into the currentBanana tree raftSteve navigating the vessel

A previous weekend, Dan and I had asked some families south of Phnom Penh if we could borrow their boat and paddle around a lagoon. During that experience I had an idea – why not go to Kampong Cham, buy a small boat and sail back to Phnom Penh?

My language teacher told me that boats would be much too expensive – we should just do what they did back in the war days. Back then, a banana tree could hold 3 men above water. A banana tree raft could hold a family!

With this in mind, we woke up in Kampong Cham early this morning and set out down the river bank asking families if they could sell us some of their banana trees. After several stunned looks and moving on, one family agreed and within minutes we were hacking down trees. After considerable effort we laid down 16 trees and cinched them together with bamboo and rope.

We set sail before noon down the river. After several kilometers, we realized that the water flow was considerably slower than what we planned for. Actually it was flowing an average of 2km/h rather than the 10-15 that we expected. To make a long story short we had to abandon the raft part way through the journey. We did everything right. The river failed us. But talk has already started regarding a refloat at high current…


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