Posted by: Googie | February 19, 2010

The floating village on Tonle Sap

In the afternoon, Juli, Talita, Paul & I rented a tuk-tuk and set off to see the floating village on the Tonle Sap lake.

One has to rent a boat to go to the floating village, but the system is controlled such that tourists cannot go directly to the boatmen and negotiate a fare. This allows the association to charge an exorbitant fee (by Cambodian standards) of $12 per person for the boat. The boat takes you to a large floating restaurant, and on the way you’re pointed to some floating stores, a floating basketball court and a floating church. Right next to the floating restaurant is a floating crocodile farm.


The floating church


The crocodile farm

It was only when we got close to the restaurant that I could see what a large lake Tonle Sap is. On reading about it later, I found that it is the largest fresh-water lake in South East Asia.


The expansive Tonle Sap lake

Soon after we reached, there came a large boat carrying many Chinese passengers. As soon as they got there, we saw many smaller boats with only women and children come to the side of the restaurant to beg. Every small boat was being rowed by a woman with an infant in her lap, and 2 or 3 very small children sitting inside the boat. Slightly older kids had a metal bucket which was their own private little boat. The tourists at the restaurant would break a dollar into smaller change of Riels, and hold them out for people in the begging boats to grab. Imagine some meat being thrown into a cage full of hungry dogs. It would be captivating indeed to see the dogs fighting for the meat, but when humans are reduced to such a state, it is sad. But obviously, this is not how everyone else felt, because the Chinese tourists were clearly having a blast.


The begging boats

I was mesmerized by the kids in the metal buckets. They were sitting in their own buckets so comfortably as if they were born with it. No matter how much they moved about, hardly any water got into the bucket; and even when it did, it was calmly emptied almost sub-consciously. They had absolutely no fear of the water – so much so, that I suspect they’ll be scared shitless if they ever stepped foot on solid ground 🙂


One of the bucket boys

After a while, another large boat of tourists docked at a nearby floating restaurant; prompting the congregation of the begging boats to make a beeline for that restaurant.

We had seen a lot of temples in Siem Reap, and it was refreshing to see something else for a change. But on the whole, the entire experience was not worth the time or the money. I was sure that most of our money had gone to the association controlling the boats, with hardly any going to the actual boatmen. Moreover, almost all the boatmen were young kids who should be in schools instead of boating to the floating village and back all day.

Once back at shore, we got onto our tuk-tuk and started the return journey to Siem Reap. On the way, there was a beautiful field of Lotus flowers where we stopped to click a few pictures. We had to pay money to even click pictures of the flowers 😦


The field of lotuses


With the kids near the lotus fields

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  1. Let me try to fill up the blank… On Reading further I found out that it is The largest freshwater lake in south east asia.

  2. Heh heh, thanks man. I just updated it. Such errors may appear in future posts also, as most of the time I write when there’s no internet connection. All corrections are highly appreciated…

  3. Googsha, you look on it as if you are already training yourself for the social work in South America :-).. good job… lotus field… and the lotus temple? 🙂

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