Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Floating Villages of Tonle Sap Lake

The most interesting places I visited in Cambodia were the floating villages of Kompong Luong and Kompong Phluk, two of several such villages located on the Tonle Sap lake. Floating Villages of Tonle Sap Lake is a short youtube video I shot from boats and the guest house where I stayed. Kompong Luong is a village of several thousand people that live together on pontoons and boats. I found it fascinating that the whole town was organized with a main water road through the town. During the wet season much of the town moves to a different location on the lake. 

I hired a boat driver for a tour from the shore. I was told that many of the residents of Kompong Luong were Vietnamese immigrants, but the entire time I was there I never encountered anyway who could speak English, so I was able to find out very little about how the village developed.

From a distance I saw this church moving to a different location in the village one morning.

A floating gas pontoon.

A party hall where there was a all-day wedding celebration. As I slept in my guesthouse, the sounds of such traditional songs as 'Play that Funky Music White Boy' came drifting into my bedroom from the party pontoon. Enigmatically almost every raft had a sign that labelled it as a 'Mobile Phone Shop.' By the signs, there must have been several dozen of these mobile phone shops.

Pool tables at the guesthouse. The guesthouse/homestay consisted of two immense pontoons and contained six rooms, pool tables, a restaurant and a general store. There was light and electricity, although the plumbing emptied into the lake. At the guesthouse I met the only two tourists that I saw for the whole day, and a lovely family that operated the guest house, restaurant, and store. I found it a very comfortable place to stay. There was a slight rocking from the water, but it was not enough to disturb a pool game. I slept very well, in spite of my driver's warnings that I would be seasick the whole night.

In the morning I saw the villagers fishing in the lake, people cooking and beginning their work. Above, a device that cuts up coconut flesh. Below, village life. I saw people on boats selling breakfast soup, vegetables ice, batteries, and boats full of schoolchildren in uniform. 

Humans were not the only raft dwellers: there were geckos on the rafters, and pets everywhere: the guesthouse had five dogs, and elsewhere I saw a pet monkey.

Later on, I visited another village on the Tonle Sap. This one had more regulated tours because it was close to Siem Reap. There was a constant flow of goggling tourists like myself. Most of the dwellings in this village were not floating. They were on stilts over the water, and presumably the water level is very low during the dry season.

The village bordered upon a sunken forest. In this village I saw many floating wooden cages that I was told were miniature fish farms.

There was also an island temple.

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