Friday, March 26, 2010

Floating Village near Siem Reap

The Floating Village moves with the tides.

One afternoon, our tuktuk driver, Tee, offered to take us a few kilometers out of town to see the floating village on Tonle Sap, the largest lake in Southeast Asia. Originally founded by immigrants fleeing Vietnam during the war who were unable to afford land in Cambodia, the village is completely self-contained, with a school, church, basketball court, and alligator farm.

Yes, that's right. An alligator farm.

Unfortunately, pollution in the lake threatens the livelihood of these already impoverished fishermen, and tourism (and the begging of tourists) has become one of the few sources of income needed to sustain their way of life. Perhaps my awakened interest in simple living recently was partially inspired by what I saw in Southeast Asia--people living lives with so few of the amenities that we believe are "necessary" these days.

Children paddling home from school.

On the boatride to and from the village, T and the boat driver spoke with us about the economic situation in Cambodia. The government is viewed as very corrupt by the people. One example of their corruption is that they don't allow independent tour boat operators; they will only allow certain companies (who probably bribe the government officials in return for huge kickbacks) to operate the boats and while they collect a huge fee from the tourists, the boat operators make a pittance.

To see the rest of the pictures along with some I took from around the town of Siem Reap, click here:

Floating Village Tour and Around Siem Reap

It would not be until we got to Phnom Penh that we would understand how recent and deep the wound the Khmer Rouge cut through the heart of this beautiful, once-supreme Khmer kingdom of Cambodia truly was. I wonder how long until she can recover and when my country, the U.S.A., will recognize its own horrific contributions to the nightmares that people living in Southeast Asia still remember...

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