Siem Reap's day time never gets over with stunning trails through the centuries old dark stone towers of bygone deities and ruins of Khmer Dynasty. In tremendous course of time, powerful kingdoms got collapsed; their giant structures of glory and sign of prosperity were almost swallowed by jungle. Since Previous day's long hours of walking and Tuk Tuk tour, that already had to start from 04 am to wake up with the sunrise over the Angkor Wat Temple ; I was about to step out for something that happens in outskirt shade .
(Locally assembled Cambodian Tuk Tuk)
A few peaceful extra miles through the city outskirt in a sunny afternoon was really about to offer best of Cambodian country roads. The pleasant Tuk Tuk driver had explained little bit about the floating village and started the 30 kilometer stretch ride from our charming budget hotel near pub street. Once the city road ends , its Cambodia’s vast plains of wetlands, rice fields, fish farms, community settlements etc, have the right show case of its aquatic ethnicity near Kampong Phluk. A slight diversion from the main road quickly replaced the back drops from urban structures to vibrant village life, shaded by healthy vegetation of coconut and banana palms.
The village ride in Tuk Tuk gonna ends at a canal side platform seemed to be ferry point: ticket counter and parking space looked almost lifeless with less number of travelers. I had to wait a few minutes to catch my small dancing boat to continue further to reach the village located near Tonle Sap Lake as the largest freshwater lake in South Asia. River Mekong gifts life for enormous communities on its shore by offering rich fishing regions, high fertile shores and unpolluted terrains for hosting travelers around the rich deltas in nations like Cambodia, Vietnam, laos etc. Kampong Phluk and its economically poor local life also getting raised on these vast part of the Mekong Delta, Tahas river and Tonle Sap lake.
Tickets taken for forty dollars( 4 persons) at the counter for two ways. The boat is bit long but looks so sleek, rustic hull never got a stable track while sailing on its regular river way. The narrow sized canal started getting widen and widen by a few minutes of super scary ride. It smells kerosene from the exhausting on board engine and my unexpected seat change for a click during the sail literally shaken the boat along companions near a sink. Mean while the ferry point disappeared, muddy canal got unrolled endlessly, small boats started passing with natives, tourists and a few small buildings got appeared like floating cottages in the lonely river.
Kampong Phluk Village and its community have been living an extra ordinary life on this muddy river bed. Mekong floods on ever year, water level would drastically rise up on monsoon and their solid solution to the sensitive river nature is to build the little home and everything even above every years flood level. So stilts have risen on the river to build their special home and every shelter they need in daily life. During the summer these stilted homes can be reached via mud road as the shore and living area get dried by the withdrawal of overflowing river.
Initial sights of some small structures on shore and floating buildings are belonged to primary school, temple, offices etc, and the 45 minutes journey of onward ride ends at the middle of a village and its dare people live exotically on a water world. What ever seeing from our small boat is something never seen, large raw of slop roofed houses elevated around 15 to 20 feet from the water level is no more a polished life frame.Small wooden boats are instantly moving one home to another for their little needs, one need to get down from the home via its raw wooden ladder to the platform beneath, kids are paddling alone and disappearing to some other side of the homes, many small wooden boats remain anchored before these houses are loaded with all scraps,fishing net, working tools, pets, vegetables, kerosene tins etc. Elderly women in the house got busy in making their supper with fresh caught fish and the vegetables someone just brought in boat.
Most of the homes are beautifully colored and flowers shine in the balcony; and a few demand some serious maintenance before the high rain period. Large spread of flooded mangrove forest begins at the floating restaurant in Kampong Phluk, where locals are taking travelers in small wooden boat to paddle the tiny ways inside this groves. Its interesting and charging around 5 Dollars per person for a round. Heading further beyond the mangrove forest to Tonle Sap Lake in same motor boat offers the adventurous climax. On a rough weather day Tonle Sap was seemed muddy, shaky and sensitive. Motorboat driver taken us to Tonle Sap on request, the crazy high current river ride brings scream on board, wind dragged and after a few minutes ride decided to return via same river to the boarding point where Tuk Tuk driver awaits.
Nearest Airport: Siem Reap or (Phnompenh with a 6 hours road journey)
Local Host: Bopha Pollen Hotel http://www.bophapollenhotel.com/ INR: 1200 to 1500 for a room per night.
Phone: +855 63 965 899
Mobile: +855 10 965 89
1. Cambodia backpacking was done in 2013 and certain fare changes in all segment must be considered.( Boat rate charge is around 20 dollars/per person/ and Tuk Tuk negotiable fare is USD 40 for a cabin for four)
2. Except a few photos left in Mobile camera, much of the Cambodian photos were lost in my stolen bag at Ho Chi Minh city.
3. Cambodia has other floating villages too; make a diversion for something new.