It is third day in Siem Reap and the last day for my Angkor complex ticket. Last night while having dinner, I decided I was going to do the Tonle Sap lake tour in the morning which I paired with a tour of the Roluos Group.
What peaked my interest was Tonle Sap was actually a designated biosphere. The fact being that I am here during the monsoon season, the fresh water lake quadruples in size to that of a small inland sea. The lake is connected to the Mekong River where in during the monsoon season, the tide reverses and causes the lake to bloat.
My Tuk Tuk driver bought me to the pier 30 minutes away from Siem Reap. I had to pay extra to ride a boat that would take me to the edge of the lake and to the floating village on the lake. Now one thing is, I wasn’t expecting that I was going to rent an entire boat for myself – but that is just what happened. I could have actually shared he ride with other tourists, but I was the only one in line at the time of my arrival.
The boat raced across the flood plain. All I see was a vast amount of water and the occasional boat. Suddenly out of now where, I start to see houses on stilts appear. Eventually more houses appear and I find that we are passing through a village.
I dropped off at a receiving area where I could take a paddle boat ride of the floating village. This felt like a “high jack” to me because I wasn’t expecting to pay another extra amount of money. But apparently it is supposed to help fund the village and I reluctantly said “yes”. So, I found myself sitting in the middle of a small boat, with a Cambodian lady paddling at the front while her child was sitting behind me.
We started off by coasting through the floating village where you get a glimpse of how these people have adapted to their environment, it is quite shocking to see that some of them are living along the poverty line – especially if you compare it to the western concept of “living”. Coming from the Philippines, I have seen how poverty can be a hindrance and a “fire starter”. I did grow up in a “rich” household but I couldn’t say I grew up poor. I lived a comfortable life with my grandmother. We did not have refrigeration, air conditioning nor a flushing toilet BUT we were happy. And seeing something like this takes me back to those times and I hope that the money I paid for this boat ride will somewhat help these people. I especially loved when my boat lady made a turn into the trees – it was a very serene experience. Sunlight filtered through the leave and made everything Green.
I was dropped off at the boarding point I then found and we continued on our journey. I was taken to the very edge of the river where it meets the lake and all you can see is water. The driver even encouraged me to swim, but I had to decline. The tour here took around 2 hours.