Monday, 14 April 2014

Floating In Cambodia

Floating village houses  in Kampong Phluk, Tonle Sap, Cambodia

Some of the best moments on my Indochine trip last December was spent on a boat. Apart from the slow cruise down the Mekong River, a river that spans 5 countries, the one truly memorable day was the morning at a floating village called Kampong Phluk on Tonle Sap.

Tonle Sap is such a big lake, you will think you are looking at an ocean when you are floating in it on an aimless boat whiling the afternoon away.This lake is unusual in that it flows in opposite directions during the different seasons. As a result, the lake expands and shrinks dramatically depending on the time of the year.

In the dry season, the tide on its tributary is so low that no boat can pass. Once the wet season arrives however, the stilts disappear and the houses look like they float on water; the lake swells so much that it floods the surrounding forests and fields, providing a great breeding ground for fishes. 

Fishing traps underneath a floating house

In 1997, Tonle Sap, the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia and an ecological hotspot was designated as a UNESCO biosphere.

Lady harvesting shrimps from nets on boat

As one might expect, Kumpung Phluk's economy is based primary on fishing, in particular shrimp harvesting.

Vertical Hydroponics Garden

A floating store or boat selling household goods

Accessible only by boats, villagers try to be as self sustaining as possible, growing their own vegetables in hydroponic gardens, making pig pens out of old boats and of course, farming fishes and other available sea lives. For all other goods, they rely on floating stores of wares and fruits, meats and rice.

Town Hall



A cluster of three villages of houses on stilt, Kumpung Phluk is built on a floodplain about 16km off Siem Reap. The villagers are mainly Khmers and there are about 3000 of them. 

A child, barely 6 years old, rowing a boat

Returning from School

On a House Boat

That morning though, I think I barely saw 300 of them, mostly women and children. I still see them, barely out of baby-hood, precariously but deftly moving from boats to boats; the women performing back breaking chores, their children at their shoulders as they rowed and carried, cooked and gathered.

The lady rowing my boat

Kumpung Phluk's growing popularity for tourists nonetheless meant new job opportunities. We lunched at a nice restaurant waited by locals who could speak English, walked through the flooded forest on sturdy board walk built by carpenters and rode on small sampans through the mangrove paddled by the young mothers.

Mangrove forest as we drift in and out the trees on our small boats

And even though I do not envy them their lives, my half hour on that slow boat, weaving through the trees and watching the dancing lights, did make me wonder if I would like a life like this. 

Perhaps only as a passing ship....

What about you, my friends, will you like it?


The Old Maid said...

Great place and great photos dear SoulSis! I would love to see it! But... would I like to live there? Probably not. It must be so hot out there! lol!
Good to see&read your post again!
Hugs and kisses

Kikka N said...

Dear Sans...
I am speechless in front of your beautiful and exotic photos and listening to the soft music sounds..
What a holiday!

A perfect start for me in the net today, thank you for sharing this.

claude said...

thank you for these beautiful photos

BiWuBär said...

Thanks for taking me along to this special place of the world - the mangroves look like a true enchanted forest, you'd expect fairies to peep from behind the trees every moment. But would I want to live there... maybe life would be much slower and less stressful... but I think I'm not made for this, too much infected by the comfort of civilization... and with a huge respect of mosquitos which I suspect to live there and waiting for innocent victims... ;O)


Piikko said...

Hi Sans! Thank you telling us where you have been lately. (I was missing you! )I wouldn't guess that you've been floating! Now I am floating with this beautiful music and with your incredible photos. HUGS!

Daydreamer said...

Such a fascinating place! Such a unique ecosystem! Such Beautiful pictures! I view it a little bit as if it is a Dream... one I never could have Imagined.... a little haunting.... otherworldly.... precarious..... but serene and so timeless! But would I want to live there...? Where would I put the dollhouses???? LOL!
I think I need the solid Earth beneath my feet!
Thank you for sharing your journey with us.... it takes us to places we cannot imagine....
I'm so glad you are here again!

Remco said...

Will you like it.... man I am so jealous of your trips.
I would love to have such a holiday.
Dreaming it is me at the other end of those feet now (but I don't color my nails)
Thanks for taking us along on your blog ;-)

Tallulah Belle said...

What a marvelous post to read..that truly is a magical place and you've captured it so well in photos. I adore the one with the little girl in the boat trailing her hand in the water. The people who live places like this work so hard.
Could I live there....hmmm. Probably not but I would love to visit there for sure.
Thanks for inviting us along on your travels xxx

rosanna said...

Not my cup of tea for a living although I love your pics and I'd love to visit.
Loveloads, Ro

Daydreamer said...

Just here to be a pest and wave "hello" again...!
Are you still drifting...?
Or have you floated away?
(You can ignore this if you wish)

Sans! said...

Dear Betsy, I am very much missing my minis and chatting with the friends here. I have decided to spend a bit of breather time today doing what I have been meaning to do since Dec last year- sending little packages off to many of you. Thank you for always being here. Know that I really appreciate all your little notes and poems, thoughts and hellos. And that I have missed you too. :):):)

contar said...

tiene que ser un país apasionante, aunque la pobreza o lo que los occidentales consideramos como tal es lo peor, espero que la llegada del turismo no sea realmente algo malo como ya a ocurrido en otros países.
un abrazo

has to be an exciting country, although poverty or what Westerners think of as this is the worst, hope the arrival of tourism is not really a bad thing as already happened in other countries.
a hug

Blog Widget by LinkWithin