Thursday, August 09, 2007

Siem Reap: The Floating Village

A trip to Siem Reap wouldn't be complete without a visit to the floating village on the banks of Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia's largest freshwater lake.

We walked around the river bank for a bit, and were greeted by some of the most friendliest poeple I've met. Most of them were also quite happy to pose for our cameras with a big smile on their faces.

We boarded a small sampan complete with deck chairs for six. The hotel had already arranged for a tour guide as well as our very own boatman - who turned out to be a fourteen year old boy.

We started our cruise by the banks of a small tributary which was lined with small wooden houses floating along the banks - hence its name The Floating Village.

Children were having fun playing and swimming in the brackish coffee-coloured waters which was also filled with water lily and crocodiles.....

According to the guide, almost a million people live along the banks of Tonle Sap and its tributaries, mostly made up of homeless ethnic Vietnamese refugees as well as locals who eke out a living as fishermen.

As I looked out at the people living in these makeshift boathouses, most of them seemed quite contented with their lo in life, almost to a point of being lost in their own world. This man was just staring out into the open for the entire duration that we were passing by his 'house'.

"Oh look!" Shirley cried excitedly, when we chanced upon a church. "Shall we go there for Sunday service?" God bless you, Shirley!

Suddenly, a young lady wearing a straw hat and carrying a basket filled with soft drinks rowed her boat alongside ours and climbed on board. We were at once amused and horrified wondering what she was trying to do. Well, it turned out that she was trying to sell us some drinks at two dollars a can. Two dollars for a can of beer!

Apparently this was quite common nowadays and as more tourists come to Cambodia, the locals start finding ways to make a quick buck. Before we knew it, more and more of these 'hijackers' clambered on board, most of the young girls. I guess it works, as Low finally gave in and bought a can of the locally brewed Angkor beer, but not before bargaining the price down to a buck.

And after the cool refreshing beer, it was time to lie back and laze in the late evening sun for a quick r&r..... Life should be like this......

Then quite suddenly, the river opens up into the lake proper and we were greeted with this magnificent view. The sun was beginning to set by that time and we whipped out our cameras in the hopes of capturing the incredible view.

I was busy tring out various tricks and techniques I had picked up while reading the Digital Photography magazine Wymen had brought along for the trip. I have to admit that after using the DSLR, the S80 seems so inadequate. Oh dear.

This large passenger ship was anchored serenely in the middle of the lake and there were even people jumping off its sides for a quick swim.

As the sun slowly sank below the horizon, the clouds also began to close in signalling an impending storm.

So we hurried our way back up the river in the hopes of reaching the shore before the rain started to pour.

Our able boat-boy was very skillful and also very strong for his age, for before we knew it, we were back to where we started and with an ever present smile, he helped each and every one of us off the boat back to the river bank.

All in all, this was great excursion, filled with lovely vistas and captivating people. One which I shan't soon forget.


FakawiTribe said...

Holy crap!
The stormy sky pic is awesome dude!
looks like you are putting your new SLR to good use!

qwazymonkey said...

wow! love your photos. Makes me wanna revisit Siem Rep afterall. Never was a fan of going back there again. Had the whole BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, BOUGHT A T SHIRT AND NEVER GOING BACK mentality going on until I saw your pics.

Great stuff!

Ernie said...

rawking awesome le the photo!!

Amazonman said...

Thanks guys for the words of encouragement. I really appreciate it. There's more to come. Hope you will like them.