Expecting the worst

By Elizabeth Wilson

We were on a long boat coming back from Chong Kneas, a floating village on the Tonle Sap lake. We only occupied three of the six wicker-like chairs that lined the inside. There were two wires that ran the length of the boat, connecting the engine to the steering wheel. But our boat driver was not at the steering wheel; he was crouched at the back of the boat, examining the engine.

Something was wrong.

I could see a layer of water along the bottom of the boat. I could see the water leaking in.

As a traveler, I was taught to carry my most important things with me rather than leave them behind where they might get stolen. On a possibly sinking boat on the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia, I was regretting taking this advice.

Our driver crouched next to the engine for so long that his black G-Strarraw pants had slowly slid off his rear exposing his navy and black underwear. I clutched my digital camera as I thought about treading water to keep it from getting wet. I felt a little better noticing that the ceiling of the boat had an orange life jacket above every seat.

After nine and a half minutes that felt like a lifetime, our driver walked back to the steering wheel and revved the engine. We were back in business.

As we sped across the water, my sigh of relief was lost in the breeze.


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