Friday, 10 May 2013

Siem Reap Part 3: Journey to Chong Kneas Floating Village

Journey to Chong Kneas Floating Village
Chong Kneas taught me a significant lesson of life - that you can be happy by being thankful for what you have now. 

And how did Chong Kneas taught me so? By observing how happy these people could be despite the hardship they have to go through, to be resourceful as they could be in order to survive and eventually to be adaptive to dramatic seasonal change twice a year. 
The journey to Chong Kneas was indeed very far, about 25 km. A ride to Chong Kneas via a Tuk Tuk was not a convenient one, especially to the driver himself, Mr. Vannak. So I never really question about 15 USD for his fee. Along the journey, we enjoyed the view of the large paddy and lotus fields nearby.

I saw a small school, where an English lady was painting its wall. The school to assist the local people to study English. It would be a great idea to retire and resides at Siem Reap, helping the people to achieve a better life in future.

Thatched houses built on tilt, it seemed like they might collapse into the water anytime soon. I would not allow myself to imagine further. 

6:00 pm. Arrival at the Entrance of Tonle Sap
I could see that the local government is working towards commercialising Tonle Sap Lake. New building to facilitate entrance were nicely constructed. The entrance to Tonle Sap Lake is 15 USD, and to some, the tour was overpriced.

I was surprised to see the jetty became a congested area compared to the previous year. We got into our boat as instructed. Despite the boat could fit it more than six people, we got the whole boat for ourselves. Due to its congested river traffic, it took the boat driver almost 15 minutes just to escape from it.

We had to cruise along the narrow river before reaching the majestic Lake of Tonle Sap. And actually the view along this river was the most touching and somehow moving. It occurred to us that the local people were somehow preparing for the rainy seasons. During the dry season, the water flows into the sea. During the rainy seasons, the rain will raise the level of water and it flows back to Tonle Sap. That is why all of them are required to be adaptive for this situation, twice a year. 

Everything... Floating
As the name indicates, everything here, floats. The schools, the courtyard, the basket ball court, the markets and of course, the houses. We could clearly see the way the people here lead their daily life. Fishing, selling groceries etc. We were informed that some of these people were frustrated that this place became a tourism center, while their daily life became a display. And they didn't seem to benefit from it directly that much. Instead of donating some amount of money or resources, tourists end up taking out camera and took some photos, like the local people are like some sort of amusement or exotic photography subject. 

Crocodile Farm & Central Market
The boat stop at the central market selling souvenirs and food, and the crocodile farm, where you can view them for free. Upon arrival, we were greeted by kids with python on her shoulder. Snake, is definitely a creature of which I had no sense of sympathy at all. I could not even stand a sight of it. I refused to get out of the boat, but upon being insisted by Herman, and due to my wild imagination of the girl jumping into the boat with her python, I quickly went out and went up to the third floor of the central market. 

And I faced the same problem when she was standing there at the entrance. I was thinking hard, how can I get into the boat while she was there? With the snake!

I was in that dilemma for about 15 minutes. The moment she left, I quickly jumped into our boats and instructed the driver to bring us to the jetty. And I became the joke of the day. Blergh...

On our way back, the driver informed us that one of the schools for the poor kids and the orphans in need of donation. But we were advised to provide school equipments like pens, pencils and papers instead of cash. 

Perhaps, some other time. I will be here again. One day. 

Till then, 
Hairi Tahir

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