A village on stilts and a boat ride to watch the sunset on the largest lake in Cambodia filled the afternoon of our second day in Cambodia.
Having seen enough temples (and primarily tourists) of Angkor, we expressed interest in floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake to our tuk-tuk driver. He dismissed going to Chong Khneas since it was really a Vietnamese floating village, and instead suggested an authentic Cambodian village on stilts, Kompong Phluk, that he liked better. I was not sure if this was his patriotic preference, or he would just get a bigger kickback there. Since Kompong Phlok was also farther away, I figured it would be a good choice and less touristy.
It was a long way there by a tuk-tuk towed by his small motorcycle (or so it seemed even though only about 35km from Siem Reap). After turning south from the main road to Phnom Penh toward the lake, the pavement stopped and the dirt road got gradually rougher. It was sandy enough in places that he would employ some motocross moves to keep going. At the end of the dusty ride, we paid a fee of $18 that would include a boat ride through the village and out to the lake for a sunset.
Our teenage boat driver spoke no English, wore very tight jeans as many young Cambodians did, and enjoyed pop music on a stereo. We cruised on the river passing through the small village, observing life - locals paddling on boats, moving about on motorized boats, naked kids playing... I could not help feeling self-conscious and guilty there. This was not a zoo, these were people, going about their lives, living an ancient lifestyle, now reconciling it with modernity, and we were complete strangers staring at them from a passing boat. I could only hope that most tourists come away with understanding of how lucky they are with their lifestyles, and also appreciation for what is truly important in life - children, families, a good meal on the table, and a good will toward others.
|Our boat and its driver||Leaving||Tourist boats||Phone call||Phone call||A house on stilts|
|Princess||Village of Kompong Phlok||Boat traffic||Floating pig pen||Floating pigs|
|Canoe convoy||Towed passenger||In charge||Paddling along|
After passing through the village, we were offered a canoe ride through a submerged forest between the lake and the village. We accepted for $5 each, and a young lady took us on a peaceful float through the mangroves, pointing out birds and fish in fishing nets along the way. She asked for a tip by pointing to her obviously pregnant belly, and saying "baby". She was careful to hide the tip from the sight of her employers...
After the canoe ride, we continued on our boat out toward the lake, and watched the sunset there. It was a great one, with clouds decorating the sky and changing colors as the sun dipped into the water of the lake that seemed as big as a say. Coming back through the village on the way back, we observed an evening hustle to prepare dinner, with smoke rising everywhere. We hopped back in our tuk-tuk, and reached Siem Reap in complete darkness. We paid our driver $30 for his all day services that started before 5am when he took us to Angkor Wat for the sunrise...
Kompong Phlok was a nice preview of the following two days. We would go still farther away from the tourist crowds, starting with Beng Mealea the next morning.
|Guide||Irina||Submerged forest||Irina||Guide||Boat on Tonle Sap Lake|
|Flag||Half sun||Back in Kompong Phlok||Pig maintenence|