Safe Haven For Kids
Whenever one thinks of elementary school, one would expect a clean environment, colourful sandwich boxes, and even lovely classroom.
I believe the people at Chong Khneas and their foreign sponsors have continually tried as best as they could to provide these children with as much normalcy to life as possible.
Painted in bright colours of Red, Yellow, Green and Blue, the elementary school provides children with not only a place to study, but also a place on the upper deck where they can spend some unadulterated time being who they are - children.
The Land of Fishermen
There is a Cambodian saying, " Where there is water, there is fish", and the one thing Tonle Sap Lake has in abundance are fishes. It is said that more than half the fish consumed in Cambodia comes from this fresh water lake.
In Adrian's words of the Unwise, "Where there are fishes, there are fishermen" and the large part of the population at Chong Khneas are dedicated fishermen. These fishermen go about catching fishes all year round. They are the only group of people given the rights to fish throughout the year, while the rest of the big players, with their big fishing boats and large nets are alloted a certain window period for fishing so that the fishes are given time to grow.
Use Your Imagination
Here's some mind-boggling image that I want you to picture in your mind.
Look at the picture, then look at the background where the moutain is. Now imagine that where this picture is taken will be covered in three metres of water come December, and that the extent of the lake stretches all the way to foot of the mountain.
Isn't it unbelieveable? Every bit of this land will be covered with water. The occupants of the huts will slowly move their temporary abodes up the dirt road as the waters starts to claim back the land at a crawling but steady pace.
The occupants will try their very best to stay near the waters as they are fishermen and would very much prefer not to travel to much. So when the lake water rises, they'll move their huts, with the help of a pick-up truck, to the next location may 300-500 metres up the dirt track.
Not everyone is poor here though. We caught sight of a temporary hut that even had a makeshift shelter for their car, and cars are not considered as very affordable in Cambodia.
Catch Sight of The Floating Health Centre
This is the place where the would-be mothers of Chong Khneas can go for their regular check-ups to see if their foetus are in good health.
At first, I thought that this was a clinic that the villagers of Chong Khneas could go to. But I was told by my driver that for those in need of a medical help, they'll need to visit the hospital in Siem Reap.
Definitely made alot of sense to me as it would be harder for pregnant mothers to travel, especially on a less than smooth dirt track.
Enjoy The Vast Expanse of Tonle Sap
If I had not been informed earlier, I would have thought that Tonle Sap was an ocean. At the mouth of the lake, you'd see a body of water without any land in sight. The wind was tremendous and for once, you'd feel the chill from the wind.
This is why the lake is known as South East Asia's largest freshwater lake.
New House Fresh Water Ranch
This seems to be THE stop-off point for all tourists roaming the Chong Khneas area. Smart move by this Cambodian Chinese lady who owns this ranch as she has started a restaurant and also a sourvenir shop specially for people like us. There's even a model of the area to show you where are the specified fishing areas for the big fishing players and also, there were aquariums to showcase the many types of live fishes caught from the lake. They even have live crocodiles on display.
This is really where the last floating platform stands before one stares at the seemingly endless stretch of Tonle Sap Lake.
Temples with dry feet
During my trip in the Tonle Sab area I saw also some temples. It looked like these temples were built at higher grounds which are not flooded. Though some temples at the complex at the edge of the water had stilts.
The temples were almost the only buildings in the whole area which were not floating. The churches I saw were floating buildings.
- Arts and Culture
Daily life on the water
Living along and on the water..... no other place to go. At least in the high water season, like at the time we crossed the Tonle Sap area.
People live in floating houses, houses on stilts and houseboats. Everything has to happen on the water... doing the laundry, washing the dishes. It looks like a very basic and harsh life.
I saw little kids who know how to manage a boat , being not much older than the age at which they have learned to walk. I hope they learn to swim as well very young. Everywhere small kids were playing on narrow wooden boats or at the water side.
- Sailing and Boating
After leaving Chong Kneas we crossed an large flooded area. It was unique to navigate between the trees of the flooded forest.
This unique flooded forest is very rich in nutrients for fish and because of that an ideal ground for breeding fish. We saw some temporary dwellings and nets of fishermen between the treetops.
After we left this green area first the rudder of the boat had to be cleaned from all the vegetation stuff before we could continue our boattrip into the direction of the open water of the Tonle Sab Lake.
- Sailing and Boating
The floating village Chong Kneas is situated about 12 kilometers southwest of Siem Reap at the bank of the lake Tonle Sap. The floating village moves with the fluctuations of the lake.
Chong Kneas is also the place from where the ferries to Pnomh Penh or Battambang leave. In case you don't take the ferry, you can get a glimpse of the daily life on the water at this place or make a boattrip from here.
It is interesting to see how people live on the water. Not only the houses, but also the shops, schools and churches are floating on the water.
Close to Chong Kneas at the nearby mountain you can also visit a temple, the Phnom Krom. This Hindu temple, dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, was built during the reign of Yasovarman at the end of the 9th century. Phnom Krom, meaning lower hill, with its three towers is in a ruined state.
With all the surrounding water this mountain temple is a nice place to watch the sunrise or sunset from. From the lake and the wetlands you can see the silhouet of the mountain allready from far, but you can not see the temple.
Residents of the Tonle Sap usually stay near the banks.. however, the volume of the river swells during the monsoon seasons and shrinks during the dry season.. Thus it is necessary for them to move their homes during these times..
Here one of the home moving.. :)
Amazing isn't it?
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
The must see activities here in Tonle Sap.?@Interesting to know that most of the people here are from Vietnam and Laos. Foreigner here have no permission to live on the land, so the form a village on the lake.
- Family Travel
Hard working Snakes
Most of the people have a snake. These snake is not raring as a pet but as a tool for living.
The owner rent their snake to tourist taking the picture. 1 shot charge 1US dollar. So, snakes in Cambodia are working hard for the money.
- Hiking and Walking
- Mountain Climbing
Leather Industry for fashion is getting popular in Cambodia. Alligators lather as been exported to the European country for fashion industry, this become one of the main income sources for the locals.
Too bad, some of the alligators came out from the cage and run into the lake became a problem nowadays in Cambodia. Hundreds of kids has been killed yearly.
- Diving and Snorkeling