Angkor Ban is a little village on the river banks of the Mekong, one of the few that was not destroyed under the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. A hidden gem in the heartland of Cambodia where people still live in their traditional wooden abodes and keep their old cultural traditions alive. Hundreds of wooden houses stand intact on stilts, shaded with banana trees, among the hustle and bustle of the daily agricultural on-going of the local villagers.

On our excursion through this petite village we get an excellent introduction to the typical life of a Mekong village: beautiful square-shaped houses on stilts, slender cows living side by side with humans in the courtyard of the houses, chicken with their babies forming a bee-line running on the grounds, kids laughing out of happiness with glittering eyes seeing us strolling through their village. Eventually, we meet one of the oldest villagers – a gentleman who thankfully shares some of his deep life memories and happily shows us around his simple but well-kept home.

Mr Sun – so his name – was born in 1929 in the Takoev province southwest of Cambodia and moved to Angkor Ban village in 1952 where he married his wife Lyn. Together they had six children who now take care of him according to the Cambodian tradition where the children look responsibly after their parents. He has never left the village since. He was lucky to have survived the regime of which, we feel, he still doesn’t want to recall his memories when he is asked about this cruel time. He looks forward instead. Many improvements were made over the past few years, he tells us: “electricity, running water and some paved roads help us to carry out our daily tasks much easier. I am also so happy to see foreigners coming to visit our village calmly and respectfully. It adds a different source of life to our being and my heart smiles when I see young children ambitiously try to speak English with our visitors. That is good.”

The Angkor Ban village with its temples, monks, villagers and houses on stilts is one of Heritage Line’s unique excursion along the lower Mekong – around 80 km north west, from Phnom Penh up the Mekong river. The encounters and sights that are different. And they last … maybe until the longing kicks in to return once again.