Monday, October 13, 2008

Life on the lake, Tonlé Sap floating village on the Mekong, Near Siem Reap, Cambodia

After our morning of temple exploring we headed back to Siem Reap for some lunch and a quick siesta. We arranged to meet our driver again at 3PM to head out to Tonlé Sap floating village 16 KM southeast of Siem Reap. We drove along unsealed roads, through the villages passing locals on scooters laden to breaking point with an amazing array of wares, from hundreds of tapioca roots to 3 live pigs and 30+ ducks.
As we arrived I noticed a Cambodian woman with an expensive digital SLR camera but thought not much more of it. We boarded our traditional Cambodian wooden boat and headed out to explore the lake.
An entire working town exists on the lake, with schools, shops, businesses, farms, bars and houses. Most of the inhabitants are subsistence fishermen, catching catfish and shrimp from the lake.
We chugged along past all of the various floating buildings on the village and came to stop at a floating crocodile farm for some dinner and views across the lake from the top deck.
After being coerced into holding a live crocodile we moved on to watch the sunset from further down the lake.
As we arrived back on the shore we were met by the usual band of hawkers trying to sell all manner of junk. One woman kept tugging on my shirt;
"Mister, Mister, you like plate face?"
Barely registering amongst all of the other sales pitches she kept on;
"Mister, very nice plate face."
Eventually I gave in and stopped to have a look at what she was trying to sell, as looked down she proudly held out two plastic camping plates with mine and Jays faces printed in the middle. It suddenly occurred to me that she was the woman who had had the camera when we had first arrived at the port.
I declined the offer of a plate with my face on it as I couldn't imagine when exactly such an item might be of use to me, although It would be an amazing way to serve dinner guests!
We headed back into town to get some sleep before we met our guide and driver again at 4.20 A.M to head out to Angkor Wat for the sunrise.

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