Travel Report: Kampong Phluk Floating Village, Cambodia.
November 2015. The fascinating floating village of Kampong Phluk lies deep in the countryside of Siem Reap Province. The village is home to around three thousand people, most of whom are fishermen. My visit to this amazing corner of Cambodia came on a day tour organised through Naga Angkor Hotel. We set off early morning in a minibus for a one hour drive that took us deep into the countryside. Jumping out in the middle of rural nowhere, we followed our guide on foot to a waiting riverboat. Finally, we were ready for the dramatic approach to Kampong Phluk.
Chugging across the murky brown water, we soon reached the village, an amazing stretch of stilted homes set at about nine meters above water level.
Our first stop came at the community temple, where we disembarked and met some of the locals. There were lots of kids milling about, along with a few opportunistic teachers. These so-called educators followed us around with heartfelt pleas to buy schoolbooks, pens and other stationery.
The kids themselves kept their distance and were generally shy. Our guide told us that although the village does have a primary and high school, the focus is very much on teaching the children how to handle boats, fix nets and learn carpentry skills.
Kampong Phluk Village, Cambodia.
The village’s dustbowl main street felt like something out of a wild west movie. Or at least some warped Asian version where there were no saloons and the locals laid out mats of freshly caught shrimp to dry out in the sun.
Kampong Phluk’s main street sits largely deserted in the daytime. This is due to the fact that most of the men are either fishing at Tonlé Sap Lake or by the river working on their boats. As a visitor, a stroll down here is all about admiring those towering wooden houses. In fact, I was doing just that when suddenly, out of nowhere, a gaggle of children shot across the road with a rickety old bike. I’m glad I got to capture the moment.
What To See & Do, Siem Reap.
This father and son also caught my attention. They were sitting at the foot of the ladder that led up to their humble abode. The air was a little smoky from a nearby pile of burning rubbish, because that’s how the locals handle garbage. The man was so serious-looking I was half expecting him to reprimand me for taking their picture. However, as I gave him a thank you smile, he returned the gesture with a sombre nod. Then he rose, and headed up the ladder with the little one in his arms.
Beyond Kampong Phluk lies the wide expanse of Tonlé Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. On the edge of the lake there’s an amazing floating forest, where local chauffeurs offer canoe trips at $5 a pop.
It only takes fifteen minutes, but the trip is highly atmospheric and so peaceful. Actually, there wasn’t a sound to be heard besides the paddles sloshing through the water. It was quite the experience to glide among the gnarled trees, with beams of sunlight slanting through the green canopy above.
A range of online operators organise tours of Kampong Phluk and Tonlé Sap. Check out Viator for a range of options.
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