When we went to Cambodia, our driver, Sarat, suggested we go check out this little floating village on our last day in Siem Reap. Since we’d visited most of the Angkor temples and it was only about 2:30pm, he offered to drive us about 40 minutes or so outside of Siem Reap to this little river that feeds into Tonle Sap Lake and is the home of local fisherman. He had said it was only a 20 minute drive, but it ended up taking us about 40 minutes to go the 10.5 miles in our little tuk-tuk.
The drive out to Kompong Pluk was nice. We got to see quite a bit of the real Cambodia as opposed to what life is like around tourist attractions.
This is a typical method of product transportation: hitch something to the side of a scooter.
Bicycle shops are like gas stations in the US: one on every corner.
Children and puddles: love affair that crosses the continents.
Traditional Cambodian houses
After our lovely 40-minute tour of some Cambodian rural areas, we made it to the entrance.
After paying the entrance fee and driving for another few minutes, we made it to our boat! The chair he’s holding onto is what he put in the water to help us get onto the boat. Wasn’t super fun getting all muddy from the water, but in the end it was worth it.
The part of the river where we started our tour was so narrow that we ended up getting run into by another boat who was also starting down the river. Our driver and the other driver yelled at each other for a few minutes and then we got back on our way. It was a little awkward being followed by a cranky boat driver who was giving us the stink eye for several minutes, but eventually that boat slowed down and we were able to put some distance between us.
We saw a lot of fun things on our boat ride. The way rural Cambodians live is so different from anything I’d ever imagined.
There were children playing everywhere while their parents gave boat tours. Some were clothed, some were not.
Many children joining their parents for a fishing trips. It was fun watching them play and learn how to fish.
Most of the houses on the banks are high on stilts to protect them when the tide rises. It’s pretty amazing that the water gets that high. The hand-made houses are suspended by 16-foot stilts above the water. During the rainy season (June to November) the water level rises to just about the height of the structures. The best time to go, however, is in December or January when the water level drops and you witness temples and schools balancing on thick, wooden trunks.
This is Kompong Pluk. Well, part of it. The village spans the river and then part of it going out onto the lake. There are over 3,000 people living at Kompong Pluk, a name which means “Harbor of the Tusks”. I’m curious where the name came from, but nobody was able to tell me. Many of those who live here are fisherman, but some also farm. There is no running water in the village so the residents rely on the water in the lake for all their washing and cooking needs. They have what they need to get by and it was really interesting to see what life was like around the world centuries ago.
Holy bananas! That baby can climb! There were so many tiny kids crawling up and down ladders. Parents in the US would be pitching a fit and getting social service involved. This is just their way of life here.
I love how kids here can have so much fun without technology and the internet. It was neat seeing the bonds they’ve created with each other.
If you want to stay out here, you can sleep and eat at Tonle Sap Guest House & Restaurant, though the restaurant isn’t shown. It’s floating further down the river.
This is the restaurant. I wanted to see what kind of food they had, but we didn’t have time to stop and check it out.
There is a point where they pull up to a floating wooden pathway so tourists can pay to be guided through the mangrove forest on wooden walkways. We were short on time, so we opted not to do the mangrove tour.
Most people wash their laundry in the river and hang it up to air dry. Even though the river looks dirty, it’s actually pretty clean when the boats aren’t stirring the sit up.
One of the things I learned is that during the dry season (which is when we went), many residents of Kompong Pluk will build these floating houses to spend more time fishing on the lake and then will come back to the houses on stilts when the water rises.
The last little bit of foliage before getting to the lake.
Tonle Sap Lake. This is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia. There are more than 100 varieties of waterbirds in this lake, including several threatened and endangered species, and over 200 species of fish. You will also find crocodiles, turtles, macaques, otter, and other wildlife that inhabit the inundated mangrove forests. The lake is also an important commercial resource, providing more than half of the fish consumed in Cambodia.
The tour continues out into the center of the lake where you float around for a while and then goes to another section to see floating shops and other touristy stuff. It was late and we had to get back to our hotel so we could shower, pack and make it to our night bus, so we spent a few minutes on the lake before heading back up the river.
I love how serene this woman looks.
I thought it was neat that they have a floating clinic. Instead of taking an ambulance to the clinic, the clinic can come to you.
I thought it was pretty neat that they have a school there. I had thought kids would need to go into town for school. It’s nice they have their own school in the village. Visitors are encouraged to bring school supplies to donate for the students. We didn’t know that beforehand, so we didn’t have anything other than money to give. They’ll take that, too, but it’s more convenient to donate school supplies so they don’t have to go into town to purchase them and then bring them back.
I just love the expression on this father’s face. Right after I shot this picture, he gave the biggest smile and kissed his little girl. It was so adorable.
Our guide told us this is one of the old tour boats. It would have been kinda cool to get a tour in that one. I love the roof.
Troy and I couldn’t come to a consensus on what this little girl is doing. I think she’s washing dishes. Troy thinks she’s playing. What do you think?
Fixing the ladder. No matter where you go, guys have long lists of ‘fix-its.’
Another little climber. It’s amazing how good these little guys are at such a young age.
This is the police station.
This was our awesome tuk-tuk driver, Sarat, coming to help us climb off the boat. He was, hands down, the best tour guide and driver we’ve ever had.
I really loved our time in Kompong Pluk. It was humbling seeing the different way of life people live in other countries. In the US, sometimes we get so caught up with not having the latest phones or the fastest computer or the nicest car or being able to go out to eat whenever we want, but even just having a phone or a car or a computer or having food in our cupboards makes us so much better off than many other places in the world. We are so blessed in the US. I hope I never forget that or take it for granted.