Rona & Aaron’s Excellent Adventure, Part 19

Previously…

One of the last places we visit in Cambodia is one of the most amazing places in the world. We go to Tonle Sap which is the largest lake in Southeast Asia. Tonle Sap flows into the Mekong Delta for part of the year, but when the waters of the Mekong, coming from as far away as Tibet, rise in the spring, the flow of water reverses as the Mekong Delta overflows back north into Tonle Sap. The area of the lake in dry season is 2,700 square kilometers. During the rainy season, from June to October, its area increases and gets up to 16,000 square kilometers! This shifting of currents, bringing fish up from the Mekong Delta to the lake provides enormous numbers of fish and those fish account for 60% of Cambodia’s protein intake.

The homes around the lake and on the lake are small and virtually unfurnished. Some are up on stilts to prevent them from being flooded. Other people move their homes on trucks to other areas before the waters rise. This is possible because their construction is light and simple.

Here are a couple of homes:

Home on Tonle Sap

Home on Tonle Sap

Notice contents of home: clothing and a TV

Notice contents of home: clothing and a TV

Of course some people choose to live on the lake in houseboats and the schools too are located on boats.

Children in the basketball court at their school

Children in the basketball court at their school

There are grocery stores that are on boats too.

The neighborhood "makolet"

For those who would prefer home delivery, there are also boats that sell fruits and vegetables.

Service to your door

Service to your door

Life on the lake seems to be pleasant for this child who was just about to go swimming.

Anyone want to join me?

Anyone want to join me?

We travel on the lake in a motorized boat. Of course, on this trip, nothing was predictable, so it almost didn’t surprise us when the engine gave out and we were sitting stuck on the lake. The weather was lovely. The sun was just starting to descend giving a golden glow to the water. There were other boats. No one panicked. Eventually, after trying to start the motor a large number of times, the young boy who was assisting the pilot waved down another boat of the same type, threw a rope to them, and tied us to the other boat. We then were towed most of the way to the dock with the engine finally starting as we arrived there. After all, we had had days with no adventure. It was time.

Our travelers were a wonderful group and we all left the lake having had an enjoyable time. What they didn’t know was what was in store for them in the evening. Next time: two fabulous evenings in Siem Reap. You won’t want to miss them. Once you see them, you will sign up for our next tour!

Continuing…

Cambodia – Tonle Sap

This is an excellent article on Tonle Sap, a real phenomenon. It is a lake that during the rainy season expands enormously. The water current actually changes twice a year. During the dry season, the water flows from it to the Mekong Delta, but in the rainy season, the water backs up causing the lake to swell, carrying with it lots of fish.

Here are a few pictures I took when I visited there…

homes along Tonle Sap

homes along Tonle Sap

These homes were usually one room homes and contained places to sleep and usually a TV. They have no indoor plumbing and we could see wells with pumps for fresh water that had been donated by foreigners. All of these homes can be dismantled and trucked to other locations. In fact, I took this picture on my first trip to Cambodia and when I returned a year later, this whole line of homes had been relocated.

Another home next to a water pump

Another home next to a water pump

This, as the other, was photographed through the bus window, hence the glare and reflection. You should be able to see on the right a sign with US and Cambodian flags that marks the donation of the pump by an American donor.

The weather tends to be warm all year long. The two seasons are wet and dry- so it is not unusual to see little children running around without clothes.

Beautiful child

Beautiful child

The fishing industry

The fishing industry

Fishing is a very important industry. In the foreground is a pile of dried fish!

A floating elementary school

A floating elementary school

This school is moored, but is completely transportable. The upstairs area is for recess and play activities. Some schools have basketball courts that are fenced like this one so that out of bounds balls don’t end up in the Mekong Delta!

Buying fruits and vegetables

Buying fruits and vegetables

There are many people who live on boats. They can have delivery service to their door (so to speak).

Floating church

Floating church

And yes, a floating church, complete with a Cambodian flag next to the door. Here’s a piece of trivia: Cambodia’s flag is the only country’s flag that features a structure. On its flag is a drawing of Angkor Wat. Someday, we will explore Angkor Wat on this site. Stay tuned.

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