On our 7th day we went to Lake Tonle Sap which was one of the largest fresh water lakes in Asia. This will also be our last full day in Siem Reap, since we planned to take the bus to Sihanoukville the next day night. We had our breakfast at the hostel and then waited for Ang to pick us up. Unfortunately Ang couldn’t make it so he sent one of his friends. Since this will be our last day taking tuktuk I was planning to give a good send off to Ang but it didn’t work out.
The ride to Tonle Sap was about 30 minutes. Along the way we saw the country side of Cambodia. Most of them were paddy fields, I saw some banana trees bearing lots of bananas. Tonle Sap is considered the life blood of Cambodian culture and the Khmer empire for centuries. It still feeds and fulfills the need of Cambodian people. In addition to that it has very high bio diversity with variety of fishes, birds and vegetation. After half an hour tuktuk ride we got to the boat riding station and bought our tickets.
There were not that many people so Ria and I got to go in our own boat! We also had a guide who was explaining about the area. We visited during the dry season in Cambodia, during the rainy season the lake becomes almost six times bigger in its volume. The guide told us that the lake was not that deep during dry season and showed us the water mark during the rainy season and it looked like it was about 20 feet above the current water level! Since it is just two of us we got to ride the boat ourselves. Boat has a steering wheel to change the direction and there is a break but a rope functions as the accelerator. We were in the boat for 15 minutes and then we started seeing the floating villages in Tonle Sap.
Floating villages are essentially a small town with hospitals, churches, schools, police stations and markets all floating in Tonle Sap lake. From our boat guide it seemed like people who live in these floating villages also like to live in the mainland but the government doesn’t want them to move or help them in anyway to move. One of the reason being that floating villages attracts a lot of tourists and they could lose most of those revenue if there was no floating villages. Most people in these floating villages don’t have clean living arrangements and they also have to move their houses and other places during the rainy season to different parts of the lake to avoid flooding. We stopped at a school where kids were playing in their uniforms, white shirts and blue shorts. This reminded me of my school days since we wore the same uniforms back in Sri Lanka.
Then we went to a popular rest stop in the floating villages where they have crocodile and catfish farms. These crocodiles are reared just like cows and pigs and when they are old they get slaughtered for their meat and skin. We also had the option of going to the mangrove in Tonle Sap but we didn’t do it since it was an extra charge for that. We came back and took the tuktuk back to the hostel.
When we came back to the hostel it was around 3 pm. So we took a stroll in the pub street had some fried ice cream. Afterwards I spent time on packing my bags and planning the stay and travel to Sihanoukville. Later that evening I took a fish massage which I have never heard before. They use fishes to eat the dead cells in your legs. At first it was very ticklish then you will get used to it and at the end leg will be so smooth and clean! I went around the night market, bought some souvenirs and came back to the hostel, ending our last night in Siem Reap
(To be continued…)