Transportation

GUNBOATS 32 & 27

gunboat

French gunboat

By 12.30 p.m., the two gunboats between which the material and the staff for the expedition had been divided, moved off in turn. One, gunboat number 32, on which the chief of the expedition took passage, was commanded by naval lieutenant Pottier, who was to replace Mr de Lagrée as the commander of the Cambodian station. The other, gunboat number 27, on which I found myself, was commanded by one of my friends, Mr. Espagnat, who a few months later became the victim of his devotion [to duty] and perished when his ship blew up.

Garnier, Vol 1: 5

THE LAOTIAN BARGE

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The eight barges which had been put at our disposal needed very special fitting-out to be suitable to climb the strong waters of the river. They consisted of simple hollow tree trunks, between fifteen and twenty-five meters long.

To make them maneuverable, we had to fasten a casing of rather large bamboo logs around each of them so that a man could easily walk on them. This casing forms two platforms, in the front and the back, which lengthen and widen the ends of the pirogue and on one of which is installed the helm.

The hollow part of the barge is covered with a semi-circular roof, the frame of which is also made of bamboo and the spaces in between are filled with straw-mats or leaves.

Garnier, Vol 1: 53

THE CREW

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The crew of these barges consists, according to their size, of six to ten men called ‘stingers’. Each of them is armed with a long bamboo pole, at the extremities of which there are on one side an iron fang and on the other a small fork, according to whether one wants to pull or to push. 

The stingers start from the front platform, they fix their bamboo poles at any point of the bank, a stone or a tree branch, and they walk to the back, then return by the opposite side of the barge to again find a new support or towing point. 

This sort of circular movement can impart to the pirogue the speed of a running man if the stingers are capable men and the bank of the river that one is following is straight and clear.

The skipper must apply all his attention in keeping the barge in the direction of the current, or rather, her front part lightly skewed to the bank. If he lets the current hit the front of the opposite side, the barge would come across and he would have to let it turn around entirely before he could think of bringing it alongside the bank again.

Garnier, Vol. 1: 55

boatman

A Cambodian oarsman

The boats are narrow canoes made commonly of a single tree, hollowed out by fire, and provided with a contrivance which enables them to ascend the torrent-like current of the river.

They are covered along all their length, except at the ends, with a round roof of leaves, kept in their place by a double trellis of bamboo slips.

This cover is good enough protection against the rays of the sun, but it is often of little use against rain.

Large bamboos fixed in the sides of the canoes and immersed in the water, give them the stability they would otherwise want.

A narrow board forms an outside bench on which the boatmen get about easily. Each of these, furnished with a long boat hook, catches it in the branches or the roughnesses of the rocks, while the steersman at the end skilfully guides the paddle which serves as a helm.

de Carné: 48-49

PORTAGE TO AVOID THE RAPIDS AT SE MOUN

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NEGOTIATING THE RAPIDS AT KENG PANSAO

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ON FOOT AND BY BEAST

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