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Published: October 8th 2012
Not for the faint hearted. Very few safety features. We saw one boat with passengers with safety jackets - comment? If you've got it, flaunt it...
Water water everywhere was trite - I told you it rained yesterday, well it is also the end of the rainy season, so the rivers and lakes are so full. Drains and culverts are almost non-existent here, so if it floods, it floods. If it floods the road, so be it.
This morning the weather cleared, despite dire warnings of a storm approaching from China. The steamy tropics took on a pretty realistic sort of description. But, I have to say, while there was quite a lot of plastic rubbish - there is no air pollution and things are relatively clean to look at - in comparision with some other places we have been.
We drove through Siem Reap to the Tonle Sap Lake and took a somewhat precarious vessel for an hour or so along a river, beside a sunken road -- ie it was water all around. We were told it was rice paddy, or at least some of it was. After an hour we arrived at Kampong Pluk. in the dry summer season, this is a normal town. At the moment it is underwater - and the houses are built on stilts. Kampng Pluk has 6,000
Water on all sides
Flooded paddy, flooded road, and a world of life above the water.
familes all living above the water, along with pigs, fish farms, chickens, very smelly (like VERY smelly) fermenting prawns and fish sauce manufacturing and a busy little community with boats instead of cars - or as we see here, the ubiquitous motor bike, push bike and those funny rotary hoe contraptions that pull carts.
People live way out on the lake which provides more than enough fish to feed all Cambodia AND earn export earnings. One km of fishing area produces, apparently 60 tonnes of quality fish on a sustainable basis per annum. The villages are surrounded by innundated mangroves, and little kiddies paddle huge canoes as if they were nintendo devices.
This lake is enormous and is the feedwater for the Mekong delta. Boy it is BIG!!
Cambodia is potentially a very rich country. Not only does it produce excess protein, but also exports lots of rice. It also has a number of useful minerals. Logging of hardwoods is banned (like man, you DIE for cutting them down, just as serious is removal of artifacts). But Govt has not got its act together, we are told.
This afternoon we blobbed by the pool. Bliss. Hot
sunshine, shady luxury, cheerful little ladies bringing in the beer - life is tough for us!
The plea today? Are there any charities in NZ that might want to help Cambodia recover? Interesting huh? Not self interest.
Also, we were thanked for our kindness (??) for visiting and bringing hard currency and helping with the recovery.
And the lesson I learned? Self help is a mighty strong asset, and where there is no hand out, let alone a hand up, people work REALLY hard to help their famillies get an education and a decent job. those who are succesful, help their families in return.
Here endeth the lesson.
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