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By Julie D.

Last week (14th to 17th of june), was a huge week for me ! Important one ! I’ve been waiting for it since almost 4 months! I was about to meet one of the most important member of TLC’s staff.
She is impressive. She is quite old though…
Sometimes she needs to consult a doc or several doc but I cannot tell you all her secrets, I’m sure you understand… But I needed to share this one with you: you have to understand that she has spent the last few months in a specialized hospital…
So, you can imagine how happy I was to finally meet her, just before I will have to leave TLC and Cambodia in a couple of weeks…
I went down to Phnom Penh to meet Jon. He had just spent 10 days with her, helping her to leave the hospital and holding her hand to get back on her “feet”.
I have to tell that I was a little bit shy and impatient… She is an important lady, she was a Charming Duckling but she became a Swan…
Yes, TLC-1 is an important Lady.


The motorbike taxi dropped me where the boat was tied. She was hidden but I could still see her prow… Few more steps and here I was, on TLC-1…
She needed to be cleaned up a little bit, of course after several months of renovation she wasn’t in her best shape ever but still… we did a part of the work.




Jack, Jon’s friend and tuktuk driver and Jon himself have tried the engine, started it, fixed some details


 

and, after few hours, we were ready for a cruise. We had to test the engine for real, on the Mekong to be sure that TLC-1 was ready to go back to work.



What a good and amazing feeling to see the shores  fading away…

 


but didn’t last a long time… soon, Jon said that something wasn’t right, the sound of the engine wasn’t smooth… I couldn’t said, I don’t know anything about boat… We were about to live an adventure.
After a 30 minutes cruise along the shores, TLC-1 decided that she was tired and stopped. She stopped in the middle of the ferry line…



She couldn’t had found a better place to manifeste how disagreed she was.  We couldn’t start the engine anymore. Or when we did, it only lasted for few seconds or few meters.
We had to wave out the ferries, make sure they saw us…
At the beginning, the winds and the streams maintained TLC 1 straight but things change… And step by step, minutes after minutes we were dangerously drifting… The shores got closer and closer… We couldn’t do anything to stop it, to avoid it.
Jon has tried to cast the anchor but it couldn’t grab the bottom so we have kept moving…


… At the end…we’ve hit the shore. Smoothly but unavoidably…




 

Jack and Jon have spent hours to try to fix the engine, to make it work again. Sometimes it seemed to work but… no. Plus, we were stucked in the mud. Even with all their efforts and willing, they couldn’t start TLC-1. She has quite a foul temper! We only had one solution left…


We called for help. Three mechanics came and have tried to fix the engine.

 

When they thought it was fixed, two of them have left the boat, the third stayed with us, thank you for that. Yes, indeed…TLC-1 has never been able to drive us back. Something was broken, we didn’t know what. The mechanic was angry, he couldn’t fix it, very very annoying.
Sometimes the engine started only for few minutes, we had to jump into the Mekong and push TLC-1 in order to deliver her from the mud. (Mekong’s mug is really really soft by the way!!)


That was an experience! It’s probably one of the most amazing sunset I’ve ever seen. Not because of a burning sky, not because of a colorful one but because I was IN the Mekong, standing next to TLC-1, water up to my chest (mostly up to my hip…), looking at the sky, Phnom Penh in front of me. This kind of things does not happen a lot in a lifetime, not in mine anyway!

 

Around 6:00 pm we knew we couldn’t do anything more, we had to call for rescue, the sun was going down, only 30-45 minutes of sunlight was left, we didn’t have any other choice.
When they arrived, we were a little bit worried, they came with a small boat… but everything went fine, they tied the ropes, and tug us to our departure point.




We arrived at 8:30, exhausted and frustrated.
The next days, mechanics, Jon and Jack have tried, very hard, to find out what was broken, what was the cause of all of those troubles.
After 2 days of work, after two days of frustrations ( I should say after 10 days actually), TLC-1 went back on a cruise. Everything should have worked well. It didn’t. Water pump wasn’t working.
TLC-1 is still sick, she needs some more surgery but we all hope that she will get better as soon as possible.
Today Jon is back in Siem Reap, TLC-1 will go back on a test cruise next week. Please, wish her luck and success.

June, the 20th 
Julie D.