Cambodia -More Awe & Wonder

In December we took our first trip to Cambodia. We spent 10 days in the Siem Reap area which is known for the famous ancient temples and ruins at Angkor Wat. There are a lot of other things to see and do besides temples. A few museums, a waterfall and silk ‘farms’ are available to visit for a change of pace. The one that sounded the most interesting was out on Tonle Sap Lake; a floating village. We decided to visit the floating village  which  is also quite popular with tourists. The idea intrigued me and I was curious what it would be like. I pictured houses floating similarly to boats, but somehow anchored in place. We decided this would be worth seeing, something different and more unusual than anything we have ever visited before.

Only mode of transportation that works here

Only mode of transportation that works here

There are a few places where you can go and see some of the floating villages. The place our tour driver, Rak, recommended was a little further from the city. He felt it was less touristy and crowded. It was $25/person for the trip which included the price of our driver and the entrance/boat for about 1 hour. It was a short drive on main roads through the city . Next we drove through more open country that reminded me of the wide open spaces back home. Once we turned off the main road it slowly turned into a dirt road, sometimes littered with potholes. Seeing Tuk Tuks bump along in the dust made us very happy we had a comfortable car. The road here isn’t paved since the lake floods each year and the road is under water for a long period of time. The dry season runs from November to May and the lake will be as small as 2,700KM2 and it can swell as large as 16,000KM2. Due to this natural phenomenon the inhabitants have constructed their houses on tall poles made from tree trunks. This would be something to see.

House on stilts

House on stilts

We parked the car and Rak hired us a boat and we were led away. We had the boat to ourselves which was a nice surprise. We started off slowly going along a narrow passage for what seemed like a long time. There wasn’t a lot to see other than some trees that were partly under water. Eventually we started to see some of the houses on stilts. As we rounded a corner the village came into view. Houses varied from those in bright colours, to pale peeling paint, to simpler ones in plain wood or what looked like woven palm leaves or reeds. The locals went about their daily business in small boats. We saw some children going off to school while others stayed home and helped pick small fish out of fishing nets. We continued on passing more and more, which was hard to take it all in.

floating villiage

After about 30 minutes we docked and were asked to get off our boat. Another tour through the mangrove was offered for an additional $5 in smaller boats. We decided against this part and continued on our journey. After this stop there was another place to stop and eat and a large temple, but our driver pushed on. We eventually reached the open lake and our driver stopped our boat. We weren’t sure of the purpose since there was nothing to see. We were like sitting ducks and soon women in small boats approached us, With limited English they tried to sell us unappealing snacks and other items. When we said no thank you they said to buy some to give to the villagers. Again we declined and our driver returned us the way we came.

Houses up close

Houses up close

Back on shore we watched some of the locals in temporary houses, simple shacks, where they sold some food to passing tourists and other local workers.  Nearby there were a lot of rice patties and in small shallow sections of the river men wade chest deep and cast large nets to catch small fish. After watching a few minutes we returned to the car and back to the city.

I took a lot of photos, but it was hard to get the best shots as we were always moving. Sometimes I wish we could have also got up closer to have a better look.

a tourist boat with approaching sellers out on Tonle Sap Lake

a tourist boat with approaching sellers out on Tonle Sap Lake

This is a part of a series on our trip to Siem Reap. Missed the other posts about Cambodia? Check them out by following the links below:

Stay tuned …

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21 thoughts on “Cambodia -More Awe & Wonder

  1. I’m so intrigued by all the wonderful things you show me. Both in words and pictures.

    • Thanks… I really loved Cambodia and one day maybe I will be lucky to go again. I think that must be coming through my writing.

      • I think I always have dreamed about traveling, but never have done it. Only a couple of short trips. I have visited Germany, Austria and Switzerland. But that was long time ago. More recently I have been to Denmark, but that is so close so it has just been for a couple of hours or a day. That isn’t traveling.

        • Oh I couldn’t imagine not travelling. Every since I was small I always dreamed about travelling and seeing places I read about in books or saw on TV. Hey i wouldn’t say you haven’t travelled. You have travelled… some people dream to go the places you mentioned, but cannot since it is too far or expensive for them to do so.

          • And I dream of Scotland, US, Canada, New Zeeland. And som on…
            But there is too much money involved.
            I wouldn’t mind being able to travel in both space and time.
            I’m a dreamer…

            • Yes money is the big issue. I envy people who do big trips all the time. We are lucky being here it is much cheaper to go places. Many times in Asia it is the flight that is the expense. I saved for a long time to do Europe. The last time we went to Europe there was a deal with our travel agent where we could pay so much a month for 1 year. It was the only way we could afford it otherwise. Canada is expensive and big, so to see a lot you need a lot of money. Would be cheaper to rent a car and drive to many places and focus on one area to see. If we were there I could be your tour guide 😉

  2. Your tour guide sounds like one we had in KL – a bit keen to take us to spend money 🙂

    • Well actually it was all part of the ‘tour’. I was just reading comments on travelocity and we had no pressure… others had a lot and were made to pay for their boat captain and driver’s lunches… guess we got off easy. I also read it was better to go with a local (our driver bought the tickets and sorted us out) because others got ripped off for $40-60 for the same thing and then pressured to buy stuff!

  3. Oh! We went to the same place. It was fantastic (they let my then-four-year-old drive our boat, he thought it was the best thing ever, some of the tourists coming opposite to us weren’t so sure).

    We did take the small canoe ride through the mangroves and again, my son was thrilled and I thought it was quite fun too, but it wasn’t especially surprising in any way so if you didn’t imagine you’d like it that assessment was probably accurate.

    We also bought a drink at the cafe. Then we didn’t get swamped by snack sellers afterwards so maybe they figured we’d paid our way already 🙂 .

    • I have read some mixed reviews about the trip. At the time I enjoyed it until near the end when I felt like it was all part of a scam to buy things. We got off lucky since I read others (many others) who paid double the prices and pressured into buying over priced snacks and rice for the villagers.

  4. Freda Goulet

    Your pics reminded me of the beach houses that are built on stilts in Texas…to survive the storm surge during a hurricane.
    Very informative and interesting narrative, Diana. Thanks again for a great blog.

  5. These are beautiful photos. Thanks for the tour of Cambodia!

    • Thanks for coming along for the ‘tour’. I could post more and more… I really enjoyed Siem Reap. I think I will do at least one more 😉

      • Looking forward for more… I’ve really enjoyed the tour 🙂

        • Thanks 🙂 It was one of my favourite places and I am drawn back there more than any other place we have been recently… I enjoy sharing it.


    Would love to visit! Thanks for sharing!!!!

  7. I love the photos! Thanks for sharing =D

    • It was a very interesting and colourful peek into more local way of life. At the time I was busy snapping photos away, but then there were a few times where I felt like being treated as ‘rich tourists’ that could afford getting ripped off. When I read others comments on travelocity we lucked out and didn’t get pressured into buying things where as others did. Other people also ended up paying $40-60 US per person for the same thing we did for $25.

  8. Pingback: Awe & Wonder: Preha Kahn | Canadian Travel Bugs

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