Tonle Sap Trip

Tue 26 October 2010

On Saturday the hospital organized a trip to Tonle Sap lake for the volunteers. When you look at a map of Cambodia, you see a heart-shaped country with a giant lake in the upper left. That's Tonle Sap. It's a short trip from Siem Reap. It was a good opportunity to take out the big camera.

Although Tonle Sap is a popular tourist sight, we saw many Cambodian families there as well. There are picnic pavilions nestled among the crowds of tour busses at the harbor. We were told that many of the houses near the harbor are fishing shacks for weekend fishermen.

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We spent the first hour navigating through submerged trees and bushes. The lake is at the heart of a flood plain. During the dry season the ground here is, well, dry. At this time of year the trees are still half underwater.
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We saw channel markers, but we didn't have to use them. All the boats have a shallow draft, and the motors stick out behind the stern. Even so, I'm not sure how they keep from getting tangled in weeds.
Eventually we broke into open water and headed for one of the floating villages. This particular one is home to 900 families. 900 floating houses, and the residents zipping around in rowboats.
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Our first stop was a restaurant for lunch. We had a nice meal of fish fritters, fish soup, mango salad, and Angkor Beer. The restaurant owners also raise crocodiles. We trouped out the back to see the pens.
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Most of them lay pig-pile in the shade. We assume they were well fed and content, because there were no skirmishes.
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Bad shot through the wire fence, but we were glad it was there. The owerns' dog was more nonchalant, but occasionally shot an anxious look downward.
The villagers grow more traditional things, too. Here's a floating chicken coop.
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The next stop was the Saray workshop. Saray is a cooperative that makes woven handicrafts from the invasive water hyacinths that clog the lake. The women have an income, the hyacinths are reduced a bit, and the tourists go home happy with souveniers. Win all around. I would have loved to learn how to weave, but we weren't there during a class.

Final stop: the fishery office, and the panoramic view from their rooftop.

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Category: Outings