Angkor Wat and Tonle sap lake
Trip Start Sep 03, 2006
50Trip End Jul 21, 2007
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
There are only 170 km to Siem Reap but the road condition is poor (still we've been told that the road has been mended recently) and it took us an afternoon to get there.
Siem Reap is not at all the village it used to be. It is now the most touristic place in Cambodia and the city is invaded by big hotels of western standard, a bit of a shock when you are coming from the countryside.
A quick stop at the brand new cultural village, a complex with expositions and live performances representing the customs of several Cambodian ethnic groups didn't make a big impression on us.
At the end of the day, like all the other hundreds of tourists, we went up a hill to the Bakeng temple, where you can see a beautifull sunset... if you can take the crowd! We couldn't and didn't take the beautiful snapshot of the sunset "de rigueur" on that spot: so unprofessional ;-) !!
It was a very long day, but it was worth it, as the site deserve its reputation.To relax a little, we decided to treat ourselves with a cocktail at one of the tourist bars near the main market in Siem Reap. Our driver, the cousin of Saoyuth's mum, that Patrick dubbed "Monsieur Lein", never had a cocktail in his life. After tasting the ones we had ordered, he strictly couldn't get the point of paying so much money for a bit of alcohol mixed with fruit juice! I have to admit they were not the best cocktails ever.
Crocodile farms and water houses on the Tonle Sap (the freshwater sea)
As we are visiting in the dry season, our "captain" must find his way through the lacustre forest,following narrow channels until we reach the open waters of this huge lake. The waters are so still that the sky merges with the lake in the horizon.
We finally make it to a floating village which consits of houses on each side of a central canal near the shore. Houses are built on bamboo rafts. Each year they add new bamboos as the old ones loose buoyancy. Only the village pagoda , the high school and the area preservation center are built on firm land, but elevated not to be flooded, all the rest is floating: primary schools and their recreation courtyard surrounded by chicken wire, church (not very common in a buddhist country by the way), shops etc.
Another funny thing are the floating gardens: using the same bamboo raft techique, some houses have a patch of soil with herbs, a few vegetables, we even saw floating papaya trees!
Floating houses have unsuspected advantages: for a wedding, the house of the groom is pulled besides the bride's, and an additionnal function room can be added to accomodate the guests and the banquet!
A good night sleep and we were hitting the road again towards Battambang. Next destination, the capital city, Phnom Penh.