Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Floating Village - Tonkinese River and Tonle Sap

This village is a good 1-hour ride from Siem Reap, taking the roads directly opposite the ones going to the temples. For just an additional $2 (from our agreed temple excursion, which is good for a whole day), my good natured driver offered this sidetrip. I felt generous and offered him a tip that was otherwise "imposed" by the boatman and his assistant! He was deserved more than those scabrous, opportunist pigs!

I didn't realize it was far, and by that time, all the tension of continuous travel started to catch up on me - on my 2nd day of visiting the temples. My driver did tell me that it was 25km from Siem Reap, so I thought it was on the way back to town. Of course not! We had to go back to Siem Reap and take the opposite route from there. Before reaching the wharf, he dropped me off a make-shift station where I had to purchase a ticket for the sunset cruise. $20! Was it worth it? I'm just glad to get it over with! We came from Banteay Srey which was 37km from SR, plus the 25km to the floating village - that was a long journey! On my way back to my hotel, I took my shoes off, raised my feet up my seat, and enjoyed the mild afternoon wind. Tuktuk is the best option for viewing the temples and Siem Reap..

The floating village is populated by Vietnamese immigrants. Like Puerto Prinsesa's Vietville, these immigrants sought asylum to escaped the socialist rule and found their home here. By November, the rivers would have subsided by more than 60-70%, as the waters drain back to the Mekong River. Many seaside areas will turn into drylands again until around March. By April, the waters start to rise up, once again submerging these villages, thus its name "floating village".
From my boat, I could see people doing their daily chores: laundry inside their huts, cooking, sleeping, chatting.

Floating Village at the Tonkinese River. There's a grade school, a high school, restaurants (an on-going wedding reception at one of them), a Catholic Church, seafood market (of course)...

Tonkinese River near the tributary leading to the Tonle Sap (Great Lake). Hydrofoil boats take this route from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap - a 5-6 hour ride (and allegedly not very comfortable).

Tonle Sap. Your chartered boat stays here for a bit before taking you to an area where you can feed a school of fish (much like Thailand's Chao Phraya River). Several floating vendors would offer you pho (yes, the population of the floating river is 99% Vietnamese). My boatman and his assistant had their snack, while I patiently waited. The cruise takes a little more than an hour, as you wait for your sunset. I didn't want to, so off we went. My tuktuk was waited at the wharf, and was surprised to see me back so early.

This is the Eye in the Sky!


John said...


I showed your blog to my wife and she also loved your photos. The photos remined her of scenes in the movie Laura Croft starring Angelina Jolie since they shot the movie in Cambodia. I have your blog book marked and will come back to visit again.



eye in the sky said...

Hi John,

Ta Promh, that's the name of the temple site where the trees grow out of relic temples. That's where "Lara" Croft was shot, as well as some others like "Indiana Jones". Along with the Bayon Temple- the one with some 200 gigantic faces - Ta Promh is one of my favorite among the Angkor Wat temples. Thanks to you and your wife for visiting my site. Hope to have a really immense number of places to blog about like yours.