Cambodian Dragonboats and the Power of the Internet

19 comments

Cambodian Dragonboats and the Power of the Internet

While riding a scooter around Kratie, Cambodia I happened to pass several men carving a dugout from a large tree trunk. They were in the process of roughing out the dragonboat and though they didn’t seem to have much time to explain the details to a passing foreigner, they did show me how they had set fire to it the night before to soften the wood, allowing them to stretch the sides and make it wider.

When I showed the photos to the hotel manager, he offered to take me to another boat that was under construction just a few blocks away. We had just enough time to give it a quick look when rain began to pour and we had to retreat back to the hotel. While I was there, he pointed out the Province Governor who was there to inspect their progress. They take dragon racing very seriously around here.

That was about nine months ago. Yesterday I received an email from Veronica, a maritime archaeologist from Spain who specializes in Khmer boat building traditions. She had found my original post by searching “The Google” and wondered if I had anymore photos. Despite making three separate trips to Cambodia, she had never been lucky enough to actually witness one being built.

I gladly passed on every shot I had (and now wish I’d taken more) to help with her research and will now make an extra effort to take more when I make my upcoming visa run into Laos. She also sent me a link to her website, Archaeology for Travelers, which is devoted to travel, history and responsible tourism. I had no idea a site existed that covered two of my favorite things –travel and archeol… archaleo… ummm… old stuff– and highly recommend you pop over and check it out.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Veronica February 19, 2011 at 6:07 pm

What are the odds!? Huh! Internet is one small community, and I am really happy to have “met” someone like you who is so passionate about life and have the quality of admiring things just for the sake of it. I mean, who would have actually stopped in the middle of nowhere to take a look at what some Cambodians were doing with a tree trunk? Well, I guess only few people. And I’m very happy that you were one of them!! Thanks for sending me the pictures, I’ll put them to good use!! :D

Cheers!!

V.

Reply

Christy @ Technosyncratic February 19, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Huh… when I was a kid I always wanted to be an archaeologist (due to an obsession with ancient Egypt). Veronica’s website looks rad; thanks for passing it along!
Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Photo of the Week- Koa in Gulf Shores- ALMy Profile

Reply

joshywashington February 20, 2011 at 12:14 am

Sweet little nugget that gets me stoked for always keeping my camera on hand! nice work Johnny, way to stay low and slow…the only way to go!
joshywashington recently posted..Free Gear Friday Where is Your Favorite Camping SpotMy Profile

Reply

wes February 23, 2011 at 8:21 am

Thanks, man!

Reply

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures February 20, 2011 at 2:56 am

Wow, the internet really blows my mind sometimes!
Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Meet My Fiance- LucasMy Profile

Reply

wes February 23, 2011 at 8:21 am

Thanks for the comment, Andi.

Reply

Randy February 20, 2011 at 5:31 am

Very cool! Can’t wait to check out Veronica’s site.
Randy recently posted..Adventure Travel in Dalyan- TurkeyMy Profile

Reply

Megan February 20, 2011 at 8:41 am

She’s a “maritime archaeologist from Spain who specializes in Khmer boat building traditions”? That is a very specific job, and it must be awesome when she introduces herself at parties. (“You’re a…what now?”) As a bonus, her site is super cool!

I wanted to be a paleontologist when I was growing up. Loved me some dinosaur bones.
Megan recently posted..WTF What THE! Friday Part 18My Profile

Reply

wes February 23, 2011 at 8:20 am

Definitely a cool gig. I considered archaeology myself when I was young — wanted to dig up some Mayan temples.

Reply

James Clark February 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm

For me Travel + Archaeology = Indiana Jones, so the name is already high in the cool factor.
James Clark recently posted..Sabah State Mosque- Kota Kinabalu – MalaysiaMy Profile

Reply

wes February 23, 2011 at 8:18 am

Totally agree!

Reply

Zablon February 23, 2011 at 1:39 pm

they carve out a boat from a tree? that sounds like a lot of work

Reply

wes February 23, 2011 at 5:41 pm

It really is. After they have shaped and joined the three pieces, they carve decorations into it and paint it. And you’ll see teams of rowers practicing on the rivers for months before the races.

Reply

Erica February 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I am still considering going back to school for archaeology! I’m already scared that Shaun will have to pry me out of Guatemala with all those live digs. :)

Lovely site!
Erica recently posted..Travel Photography – San FranciscoMy Profile

Reply

Shane February 28, 2011 at 6:21 am

I’m just back from running around like a loon in Petra pretending to be the world’s most famous archaeologist. I’ve only had a quick look so far but have added Veronica’s site to my RSS feed for some of the real thing.
Shane recently posted..The Man Who Went up a Mountain… and vowed Never to go Near One AgainMy Profile

Reply

Joe March 1, 2011 at 5:02 am

The internet sure has made the world seem a whole lot smaller.

Reply

Sofia - As We Travel March 1, 2011 at 10:31 am

It’s amazing how much the internet has changed the world in every single aspect. I agree with Joe, the internet has really made the world smaller…!

Reply

Bocas Del Toro Pro Drinker March 3, 2011 at 10:36 am

You will never know how lucky you are before somebody asks you something they can’t grasp while you got it effortlessly :) She really has a thing for boats. Thanks for sharing Wes!
Bocas Del Toro Pro Drinker recently posted..bahia del solMy Profile

Reply

Amy March 4, 2011 at 4:35 am

So cool to see something being created the traditional way! It’s undoubtedly a huge effort, but well worth it and a beautiful piece of craftsmanship is created. Beautiful!
Amy recently posted..Know Before You Go- Ways to Learn From Home and Make Your Trip EasierMy Profile

Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge