22. Chong Kneas, floating village.
Some 20 kilometers south of downtown Siem Reap, at the end of Highway 63, is the floating fishing village of Chong Kneas. A visit is an unforgettable experience and definitely should be included in any travel itinerary to Siem Reap. There is some negative writing about the village on the Internet which I find entirely biased and unfounded. Maybe most of these "writers" even haven't been there.
The ride on Highway 63 is for most of the time bumpy and dusty, but you pass through very scenic villages along the river.
The village is accessible for most of the year only by boat, during a short period in the dry season, a dirt road connects the village to the main land, and the Tonle Sap lake becomes a shallow, mosquito invested swamp. It's water level varies by some 6.00 meters, which you may be able to see at the dirt markings on the concrete posts in the pictures below.
During the rainy season the lake's area increases from 1,000 sq mi (2,600 sq km) to about 9,500 sq mi (25,000 sq km, compared to Lake Michigan: 58,000 sq km)).
Income in the village is from fishing alone, on a visit in the morning you see the boats with their catch come in, land near peoples floating houses. The catch is then released out of the nets by beating them with wooden sticks. All takes place in a screened "porch" of sorts, no fish gets away again.
Today in the paper I read an article about a Western doctor who provides basic healthcare to the villages, spread out along the lake over a one hundred kilometer radius. His organization just purchased a new, Norwegian-designed catamaran ambulance boat, built in Phnom Penh, 30 km/h fast, much faster than the other boats the clinic owns.
To see life on the water is a sight to be hold. Besides the clinic, there are machine shops, engine repair shops, stores, the fish market, schools, a church, and of course the family pontoons. We passed also a water purification plant. A partially flooded cemetery can be seen also.
|Graveyard with partially flooded monuments.|
|Girls just back from the floating school, they still wear there uniforms.|
|The fish market, busy in the mornings.|
|Every aspect of life takes place on the water.|
|A merchant boat selling drinks and groceries.|
|Tonle Sap lake reminds me of lake Michigan, no entirely in terms of size, Tonle Sap is about half the size.|
|I love my pet python!|
|The water level slowly recedes. During the rainy season all the trees are under water.|
|Very lean snake meat.|
|The alligator filet also looks good.|
|White tourist meat is tasty!|
|Boy takes nap with his cat.|
|Water purification plant.|
|Water level markings can be seen some 6 meters up on the pole.|