Rona & Aaron’s Excellent Adventure, Part 7

To see the previous page, go here

Which is, in fact, appropriate, since the seventh part corresponds to our first shabbat away.

The kabbalat shabbat service that began our shabbat together was really very beautiful. All of our travelers were dressed in their nice clothing and the women ranged from lovely to elegant. The table was set with tablecloths and napkins and the tea candles were lit. We all were one family as we said the traditional prayers and sat in a leisurely manner to eat our meal. Having moved so far and so fast, all of us welcomed the sabbath rest.

In the morning, we gathered for services. We had noticed that another Israeli group was staying at our hotel. We had seen these people in Hanoi and would see them again when we got to Cambodia. We hoped that some of the men might join us for services as we had only 7 men. Well, two men did show up, not at the same time, and both of them had the same response when I asked them if they would like me to being them a siddur (prayerbook) “I just came in for a few minutes to feel the shabbat atmosphere.” After services, we had kiddush and ate breakfast. After breakfast, it was time to change clothes and go for our shabbat walk up Ham Rong Mountain.

I would love to post photos of Ham Rong Mountain, but I have only climbed it on shabbat when I am unable to take pictures. The mountain begins its slope in the center of town up a steep flight of steps. We passed by stores and stalls selling herbs and plants that are used medicinally. We passed stalls where they were selling a type of liquor that had coiled snakes at the bottom of the bottle and sometimes scorpion-type creatures. None of us was tempted to buy.

As we ascended the mountain, a nature preserve, we were treated to the most magnificent experience. There was a slight drizzle that covered all of the bushes and trees and grasses with silvery droplets. The rocks and plants and paths and fountains and the areas that were planted with flowers were nothing short of exquisite. There was a freshness to the air and the fragrance of the plants and trees was intoxicating. As we walked, we heard the sound of music and as we approached a house on stilts, our local guide asked if we wanted to go in. We said, “Of course.” We didn’t realize that what was inside was a folklore show with music and dancing. The last number involved the men holding long thick bamboo poles parallel to the floor just above floor level and moving them back and forth as the women dancers avoided stepping on them. Then, both the men and women took up the dance. Finally, they invited us to participate and one of our brave travelers actually went and danced with the troupe! (He was great!!)

After the hike, we had a short time to rest before we got together again for mincha (the afternoon service), dinner (salad, the cholent that had been cooking since Friday afternoon and some delicious fruit salad!) and finally maariv (the evening service) and havdalah (the service that ends shabbat.)

What a wonderful, beautiful shabbat– and what a pleasure to finally have nothing go wrong for a change!

Next time we answer these important questions: Where can one buy a water buffalo, what do you do if you’re in traditional dress and want to ride on a motor scooter, and most important– what is that little girl doing to my husband’s beard?

For more of the adventure go here


  1. Your beautiful descriptions remove the need for pictures! Shabbat shalom, Rona.

  2. Thank G-D for a day without misadventure. We love to read your travelog.

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