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The Story Continues:

In January of this year the TLC crew was filled with excitement and anticipation at what was surely to be a great year. A year that would see an increase in the number of staff and the ability to maintain a six day a week presence on the lake rather than rotating 3 and 4 day weeks. It was going to be a year in which the construction of a new, larger, better equipped boat would begin. We were glowing with optimism.

But in May this following excerpt from a longer message appeared on The Lake Clinic's FaceBook page:

"Funding that was planned for has been delayed. Funding that was hoped for has not been realized. Some promises, apparently were forgotten. While we are expecting renewed funding in September, our current resources will only allow us to survive for two more months--til the end of June. If we can't plug the gap, we'll have to close down our operations until funds arrive."

Needless to say, we were a bit gloomy.

But this is Cambodia! And magic--of sorts--still happens. We certainly find ourselves in a very different place today.

Old friends and some new friends stepped up to help. This led to TLC's "pinging" on the radar of The IMPACT Foundation in the UK, and their immediate response was a donation large enough to keep us afloat and working through the remainder of 2010.

Needless to say, we are...thankful.

But this is the story of our beloved TLC-1, The Charming Duckling, and the tale of her journey from Chong K'neas to Phnom Penh and her birthplace at Southeast Asian Composites (formerly "Sweline Boats") where once again she will emerge a bit more beautiful; a bit more useful; and quite a bit longer.

It was a Tuesday morning. Early even by my schedule when our boat was lowered to the ground by the off-duty policemen of Chong K'neas.

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

The plan was for a crane and a flatbed trailer truck to arrive that afternoon to begin the journey to Phnom Penh, but no sooner was She on the ground, and the timbers carted away when Sakhem received a phone call canceling the truck! This was not a minor problem.

Bridges and signage between Chong K'neas and Phnom Penh required that we keep the combined height of the truck and the TLC-1 below 4.9 meters. From bottom to top, without the roof, She stands at 3.3 meters. Siem Reap did not have another truck with a low enough bed to enable transport. So Sakhem, Daniel Rothenberg and I were off to Phnom Penh with tape measure in hand to locate a truck that would fit our needs.

After seven hours behind the wheel to get us to Phnom Penh, and another couple of hours of driving around from trucking companies to construction sites we found our truck.

The next morning we awoke in Phnom Penh and drove back to Siem Reap to meet that truck and the crane at Chong K'neas by 3 o'clock in the afternoon. I was already starting to feel my age.

At 2:30 we arrived in Chong K'neas and met the truck driver and began waiting for the crane to arrive. We waited until 6 pm, and then under rain threatening skies and a setting sun began the lift.

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

With the Duckling securely in place Sakhem, Daniel (embedded with the Duckling-carrying truck), and myself began the long, slow drive back to Phnom Penh.

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

Leaving Chong K'neas a bit before 7 pm it was close to 11 pm before the we were on Route 6, the highway to Phnom Penh. Daniel counted 170 telephone and electric cables that needed to lifted up and above the truck, and then lost count. That was in the first 20 kilometers (that's about 12 miles for Americans) to reach that highway.

I've driven this road at night several times before (it's not something I would recommend any sane person to do). Driving the road at 20 to 30kph, though was an amazing, albeit exhausting, experience. There were sights that I have never seen before, and at least one that I would be happy never to see again."

With the dawn and the awakening of the rest of the nation our small caravan continued its trek through the countryside.

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

At times bicyclists passed us by.

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

About 14 hours after leaving Siem Reap we crossed over the Prey K'bas Bridge and entered into the last leg of the journey.

At 10 a.m., on what must have been Thursday, we pulled into SEAC's yard.

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

The offload was as smooth as silk.

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

The work that will be done by SEAC includes the conversion of the TLC-1 to a diesel engine that will improve our fuel consumption and possibly even add a bit more speed while we are underway. It will also add an additional 4 meters to Her length overall. She will also be refitted with upgrades to Her hardware; a re-finish and painting; and lots more t.l.c.

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

Our ship's pilot, Miss Aly, was waiting there for us. She had been staying in Phnom Penh for sometime observing the construction and installation of our new diesel propulsion system.

©2010 Daniel Rothenberg

Our thanks, not only to IMPACT Foundation-UK, who are keeping our staff busy on the lake but also to Bob, Jane, and Hasan who have made the repairs and improvements to the TLC-1 possible.

End of Part 1.