Tonle Sap Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Here’s another non-temple diversion to consider for your stay in Siem Reap: take one of the boat tours out to see the wildlife and/or tour the floating villages on

The Great Lake Tonle Sap

 

The Lake is the largest fresh water in South East Asia. Its dimension changes depending on the monsoon and dry season. During raining season from June to October, the lake is filled by water flowing from the Mekong with 14 meters in depth and expands the surface of 10,000 square Kilometers. In dry season from November to May its size 3,000 square kilometers with two meters in depth and water flows out from the Lake to the Mekong, in and out flowing is the natural phenomenon occurrences. The flooded forest surrounding the edge of the lake is the best shelter and also very important for all kinds of fishes spawned and breeding babies. This lake providing many of biodiversities, over 300 species of fresh water fishes, as well as snakes, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles and otters. More than 100 varieties water birds including storks, pelicans, etc

The Lake is also an important commercial resource, providing more than half of the fish consumed in Cambodia. In harmony with the specialized ecosystems, the human occupations at the edges of the lake is similarly distinctive – floating villages, towering stilted houses, huge fish traps, and an economy and way of life deeply intertwined with the lake, the fish, the wildlife and the cycles of rising and falling waters…

There’s a variety of excursions you can arrange from a sunset dinner cruise to a full day bird sanctuary trip, but we were a little pressed for time so we just showed up at the docks and took the basic Kompong Khleang tourist trap tour from the first handy boat:

Tonle Sap Floating Village

If you’ve been to floating villages anywhere else this one’s probably not particularly novel, but as up til now we hadn’t, zipping past these houses with front porch gardens and all sitting in the water is pretty nifty:

Tonle Sap Floating Village

When you get to the main village, there’s a stop for eating, shopping, and playing with a variety of the local wildlife

Tonle Sap Floating Village

and then you’re strongly encouraged to buy some premium priced rice to donate to the local orphans. And sure, we’re in. At least here, unlike most charities, you know the money’s going directly to people who can use it not salaries and advertising…

Tonle Sap Floating Village

…but what really got us was the part where after buying the rice at the warehouse, you deliver it directly to the ever so adorable recipients:

Tonle Sap Floating Village

Sure, that made it a bit more of an expensive outing than we’d planned, but hey, as virtue signalling stories go, can’t really top “delivering rice to orphans in a Cambodian floating village,” can you?

And that’s about it for the standard tour, after visiting the orphans we sped back to the dock jostling all the actual locals in our wake

Tonle Sap Floating Village

and that was it for the floating village tour.

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p dir=”ltr”>Won’t claim this is a must see, it definitely is a medium-high pressure tourist trap all the way along and back at the docks where you’ll be surprised (at least we were) that someone had snapped a picture of us on the sly and it was printed and pasted on a souvenir plate by the time we were back; but if you haven’t seen anything like this before, it definitely is something different!

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Alex Curylo

Alex

I go places.

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