Tonle Sap River

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Tonle Sap River Reviews

sunnydude sunnydude
4 reviews
Tonle Sap, Refugees aboard. May 31, 2012
TONLE SAP, The Worlds Second Largest Lake.

My journeys have taken me to some remarkable places, this is one of them.

Tonle Sap River, which is the worlds second largest river covering an area of 2,700 sq kms to 16,000 sq kms and also being the Largest Fresh Water Lake in South East Asia. Fish caught from Tonle Sap Lake contributes to almost 60% of Cambodia’s protein intake. Due to its Ecology, It was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997. The Lake expands from 2,500 Square Km to 16,000 square Km during seasons and is up to 9 Meter in depth.

It is the home for thousands of Vietnamese and Cham community people who have been refugees for more than 100 years. Their ancestors decided to live on the Lake due to its vast abundance in sea food. But there are many Social, Cultural and Economical Barriers created between the Vietnamese and Cambodians which has forced the Vietnamese population on the Lake to live as Refugees from the past several decades. The children are ready to please you with their skills in the water, One kid was jumping repeatedly when I told him I like his jump, after several jumps he came up to me asking for a Coke. The little girls carrying Little babies came up to you from their little Boats to sell you many local refreshments, the sight makes you pay something not to buy, but to support the children there.

What to see : I hired a Boat to visit these villages and luckily I was the only passenger on it, which made me more approachable to the Boatman and his little assistant who provided me with all the information I needed about their Life on the Lake. Being a solo traveler opens up many doors to the Local Life. I even had an opportunity to steer the boat all by myself. I visited Crocodile Breeding Water Farms in on of the villages. The natural Bird Sanctuary being home to several species of Birds. If possible experience Fishing with the Locals to experience their livelihood. Wooden Houses which are actually Vulnerable to the waters are the homes for hundreds of refugees. Lack of Food, Facilities, Medications etc have forced these people to build their own Floating Markets, Floating Schools, Floating Churches, Floating Restaurants for Tourists etc.,

What to eat : With food being a scarcity due to the Economical reasons in these villages, People have turned Carnivores and are subjected to consume almost any kind of food. But for the normal tourist I would recommend just Coke and Fried Rice while on these Floating Villages. Get some food packed from Siem Reap Town.

Economic Conditions : Surviving under USD 1 a day, I personally do not know how I would live my life in that place. I was invited to stay over and go hunting in the deep waters, But For all the Problems and Barriers created between the Locals and the Refugees, my presence overnight would just add up to the complications to the already on-going struggle on the Lake. People live, work, fish, shop, go to schools and churches on the Floating village.

How to Reach : Boats can be hired which are reasonable cheap to visit few of the places on this Lake. It is just few kilometers out of the Siem Reap town which can be reached through Taxis, Private motorbike Taxis or Tuk Tuks.
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