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Cambodia

The Great Tonle Sap Lake

sunny 30 °C

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Tonle Sap (Pronounce as “Tone Lay Sap”) is the greatest lake in Cambodia which connects to the Mekong, ranges from 2,700 square km to 16,000 square km during monsoon season. Tonle Sap lake is full of floating villages. Most are ethnic Vietnamese but grew up in Cambodia. Most of them are born without genuine papers therefore deprived of an average life. Most of them never left the lake which they are born and died there. It has very much become a tourist spot of Cambodia in Siem Reap region.

Day to day, the villagers paddle on the water or ride on speedboats chasing after tourists’ boat bringing with them either cans of cold sodas or offering a quick pat of their pet snake hanging around the little children’s necks. Occasionally, you’ll see the speedboats catches up to the tourists’ boat side by side and steering close to it, an unexpected little child will hop onto your tourist boat trying to sell you the sodas. It reminds me of some boat speed chasing scenes in some movies where the bad guy jumps into your boat, while in this case it’s a cute little child looking to earn a living. You can even find little children seated in large deep cooking or washing pots with a wooden paddle, paddling towards you for spare change.

You’ll also find your stop in the middle of the lake at a floating restaurant for tourists, complete with a miniature crocodile farm. You’ll be lucky if you can see them being fed and get a closer look at them just about 5 feet away. At the floating restaurant, you must try the fresh water shrimp boiled to perfection and some Angkor Beer (locally made). The whole lake tour will take you pass occasional swamp areas where crocs and snakes hideout a lot and I have even saw a cemetery underwater with just the tombstones half submerged. Nearer to the end of the day, as you leave the lake on your boat ride, you’ll be able to see the daily lives of the people on the lake, drawing the same water from the lake which I see as dirty to wash their clothes, to cook, wash themselves and etc. The government of Cambodia charges an entry fee of USD2 for each foreigner at the entrance before you board the boat.

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Houses on the mainland towards the lake are built on stilts. They are affected badly by the recent flood. You’ll be able to see simple houses on stilts built with the donation from foreigners directly contributing to it as it’s written with a description contributed by “so & so”. A nice tour to the lake reminds me of the simple life the floating villagers have. Most may never leave the lake to be able to get a better living elsewhere as this is all that they know how to survive. Do spend half a day visiting the floating village; their lives will bring a good retrospect and a deep reflective in our own lives.

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Posted by jokermiss 00:24 Archived in Cambodia Tagged boats village lake floating poor reap siem tonle sap Comments (0)

Phnom Penh to Kratie

Cambodian Living

Cambodia with all it's wonders captured me and is definitely one of my best loved countries. The Cambodians are all friendly people. Progressing from the era of Pol Pot's reign where many of the people who were considered educated were tortured and killed violently, this country has sinced tried to rebuild itself and opening up for tourist to come as well as external parties to help rebuild the country. Cambodia itself does not have much of it's own cultural heritage left besides it's language which is considered one of the oldest language around. Most things sold around Russian Market and Central Market are imported from nearby country such as Vietnam, Thailand or China.

The place to visit to get to know some history of Pol Pot's regime would be to visit Toul Sleng. Now a museum and once a school, it was turned into the main torture centre for Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge's commander and soldiers. Gruesome photos of the tortured victims, bones, cell blocks where they held the prisoners and torture devices can be seen on display there. Definitely not for those who's heart is faint. The Killing Fields is not much but a ditch and not worth the visit.

With it's recent year's development, Phnom Penh itself has a mall and fast food restaurants and many eateries along the riverside. However, true Cambodian dishes are rarely sold because it's mostly being cooked at home. There are quite a number of Chinese migrants who are living in the city, therefore, you may be able to get by with some Chinese if you speak the language.

We took a ride from Phnom Penh to Kratie which is about 6 hours and crossed many bridges and smaller towns along the way. We took a detour once because one of the route had a bomb exploded earlier which destroyed the bridge we needed to take. The government did not ensure all the mines were dug out and removed. Therefore sometimes, an unsuspecting driver who decides to use uncommon roads may stumble upon one and causes it to explode. The roads are paved only up to the point where the high government officials have visited, paved for their convenience.

Pure unadulterated living can be found in the suburbs villages. Do try travelling along less travelled roads by tourist to experience this. Weather is hot and humid most year round. Travel light because everything is cheap here. You can buy on along the way if you need any.

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Cambodia in Bird's Eye View along Mekong River

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Toul Sleng

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Suburb Roadtrip to Kratie

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Detour crossing a bridge

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Cambodian Food

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The Boat Ride

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Monk on the Walk from Monastery to Monastery

Posted by jokermiss 02:23 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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