, ,

Let’s take a boat to Tonlé Sap and visit the Floating Village in Cambodia

Today was all about the Floating Village. Our guide picked us up at 09:00 am sharp and with his tuk-tuk we passed a small, calm river, little villages with humble-looking houses, some of them destroyed with staircases being the only evidence of their mere existence. The road soon became an off-road adventure track, but the tuk-tuks are obviously used to it. Close to the jetty we finally passed some beautiful lotus flower fields and lush meadows. The beauty of nature was really stunning.

Although Cambodia is (luckily) one of the least developed countries I’ve visited so far in terms of tourism, we were facing many boats that only purpose was to take a significant amount of tourists on the lake. The contrast could not be bigger and it keeps surprising me, still. Just the same I dream of going to a country and make a truly authentic experience of nature and natives. I wonder if that is ever going to happen, in a world where even the most remote regions have wifi and smartphones.

Most of our fellow visitors seemed to be of Japanese or Chinese origin.

We had a boat to ourselves, though, and it took us past house boats, a floating school, kindergarten and even a floating police station in Kampong Phluk. Now, shortly past the monsoon season, the water touched the horizon when we reached the open lake. In dry season around April we were told that the huge Tonlé Sap looses massive amounts of water and most of the houses we passed can be reached by motorcycle.

The way back was relaxing at first, but as always on touristy rides we were soon taken to the obvious stops to support the local industries. In plain terms, this meant a crocodile and fish farm (=large amounts of fish in a tiny basin and crocodiles that were stacked over one another, a state far away from appropriate for the species.

After this disappointing stop we were taken to the village’s market, just another swimming hut, where we were encouraged to buy supplies for the school children or rice to nourish the local people. Prices were exaggeratingly high (USD 30 for a pack of pencils) and now that we repeatedly refused to buy anything we started to feel a bit unwelcome. Not five minutes passed on the way back without our guide begging us for a generous tip before we leave the boat.

We managed to get back to Siem Reap without being begged for money further.

I could have easily spend some more time in this wonderful country and despite the complaints I raised earlier in this post I can totally understand the locals who see a chance in countless tourists, rich enough to travel their country, giving them some spare change. Tourism is a chance to growth, but I still hope beautiful places like Cambodia don’t have to give parts of their nature or the people’s identity in exchange for some prosperity.

We left the hotel two hours before the scheduled flight after having enjoyed the city and the pool again.


[FinalTilesGallery id=’28’]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *