An odd juxtaposition: being in a hurry, surrounded by a slow and ancient way of life.
We sped toward Siem Reap, Cambodia on a six-hour bus ride from Phnom Penh. The dinner hour pit-stop barely gave us time to catch our breaths, and we were off again, aimed for few nights’ stay near the temples of Angkor Wat. I watched the sun set out the bus window, glazing everything from rice paddies to rustic roads with warm light, causing me to consider the farmers working the land to grow a living with each passing day.
When we arrived in Siem Reap, we knew our time was limited. Though we planned to join people from around the world in flocking to see the ancient Hindu temple complex ruins of Angkor, we also wished for a chance to experience something a little farther from the crowds, something a little more insightful about present day life in rural Cambodia. Enter: a visit to the remote floating villages of Tonlé Sap.
Floating Village of Kampong Phluk: Tonlé Sap Tour
Tonlé Sap is Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, a UNESCO Biosphere welling up to 15,000 square kilometers in the rainy season, draining to the Mekong River, and shrinking to 2,700 square kilometers during the dry season. North America’s Great Salt Lake is 5,483 square kilometers, by comparison.
One and a half million Cambodians live in 127 communities around and on the water. Lake dwellers live in bamboo floating houses and stilted structures, fishing for a living and navigating the waterways as they’ve done for centuries, though motors and foreigners and outside developers are changing the tides. Continue Reading…