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Published: October 17th 2012
The boat needing punting into the right direction and my sailor was the best guy to do this - so glad he didn't ask me to help!
Since seeing documentaries about Cambodia many years ago, featuring the floating villages, I have wanted to see them. It was one of those dreams that I didn't really think would come true. But it did, yesterday. And it was absolutely amazing. I loved every minute of it. I'll try not to bore you to death!
The tuk-tuk driver from the hostel was great, again, and took me to Tonle Sap, near Sim Reap; it was a bumpy journey and when we arrived I was greeted by a long line of boats. Some big, some small, but all of them had a smiley happy owner with it. The cost to go to the village was just $1, I am sure that was wrong, but that is all he charged me at the ticket office near the boats.
The lad who took me spoke little English, but was proficient with any word vaguely associated with money or dollars!
The first part of the journey was along a channeled out area of the lake, surrounded by trees growing from the lake bed. Typical 21 year old, he kept putting full throttle down to pass boats with older occupants (yes, there are
tourists older than me!)
The first I saw of the floating buildings was the police station, then the school. How weired that was; there were tiny little children, some rowing their own boat, on the way to school! Others were off school, no idea why, but there were many school aged children in the village centre.
There were children playing at boats, in washing up bowls, laundry bowls and on old tyres. Every one of the smiled, happily, waving and seemed excited when the peculiar white woman smiled and waved back. These kiddies are amazing. Even the 1 year olds can swim!
The houses are incredible; they are mainly made from wood; there are the huge stilts, then the house sits on top but under the living accommodation is a floor where things like fishing nets, chairs and other large items are kept. The family boats are kept underneath the floor.
Little children were on hammocks, swingingly lazily, popping up a head for a cheeky hello and a huge smile.
Many were playing water games - mind you, hopscotch wouldn't be that easy really, would it? Little ones as young as 2 years were somersaulting
A few river children playing in the water instead of going to school.
in to the water, coming up laughing, and being encouraged to repeat the somersault by their friends.
Some of the very young children were working; at first I wasn't sure, but as I saw more it became clear. These are very poor families and it seems that even the youngest has to work, either selling wares, fishing, rowing people to and from town to collect or sell produce.
I asked the boat driver what he thought about tourists; he said he loves them as they bring rewards for their hard work. I asked how the floating village people felt about them too and he explained that they love it; I hope that is true, because after I left I felt as though I perhaps should not have been intruding on their unique lifestyle and I hope my selfish desire to visit, and take photographs hasn't been determinental in any way at all.
Mind you, having said that, they are fantastic at ripping you off with money! They asked if i wanted to go on a small boat, through the river jungle - of course I did - I am here and want to experience as much as
One of the houses
This is the first house I saw on the way to Tonle Sap
The lady with the boat was accompanied by her tiny little daughter, aged about 3 I think. She was so beautiful, and cheeky. She knew a few English words, hello, I like you and TIP THE DRIVER
which made me laugh.
The trip through the river jungle was eye-opening. Trying to imagine how these children grew up; to them it is life, they know only living on a floating house, learning to fish from age 3 or 4 for the boys, very slightly later for the girls.
Hopefully I can upload the photographs OK! But for now, that is one dream, fulfilled, so if there was only ever that then this trip was worthwhile!
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