Aug 06, 2011
It was probably a fitting way to end our trip to Cambodia. Cambodia is poor by any standards we deem important. It has also been through horrific recent wars, and endured the brutal regime of Pol Pot. And yet through it all, the Khmer people were the big WOW of our stay in Cambodia. Kind, gentle, and hospitable- I suspect we'll be back very soon.
Our last stop in Cambodia included the floating fishing villages near Kampong Chhnang located on the edge of Tonle Sap Lake. And how do you visit a floating village- via a boat, preferably one that is floating as well. The villages were more complete versions of what we had seen on the way to Battambang and included markets, shops, gas stations, and restaurants. It was amazing to see such a large community attach itself so inextricably to the ebbs and flows of the constantly changing Lake. The hardships and vulnerability for the residents are self evident and as we floated in and out of the various channels and bays, you couldn't help but think that life was never meant to be this difficult. In addition to living in only the most basic of accommodations and dealing with the changing moods and levels of the lake, the residents are now forced to cope with the challenges of pollution and widespread illegal fish harvesting. I can't imagine anyone from our pillow-soft North American society being able to cope with the lifestyle that these Cambodians seem to embrace. Our floating visit was met by waves, cheers, and smiles- cooking, fishing, cleaning, and even card games were interrupted to ensure that we knew we were welcomed.