Floating magic of Tonlé Sap

End October and its the end of rainy season in Cambodia. On Tonle Sap lake,  the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia, the water has submerged the trees and flooded the plains. And yet it seems life goes on normally for the people of the ‘floating village’. Its my first experience of the floating way of life. As my water taxi moves through the village, I realize all houses are floating like rafts, swaying to the waves. They have electricity and amenities like Television, which they power by car batteries! There is a school, a water station, fish and crocodile farms, a church and a police station – all floating on the lake. My water taxi was a boat with cane chairs and driven by a car engine!

It was all so mesmerizing… the colorful floating houses, yellow light of the setting sun, and to complete the picture, a beautiful rainbow! One of the most magical experiences of my life, visually.

Pretty picture
The floating village
Submerged
Church
Local transport
Colorful
Village Locals
Sunset on the waters

The Tonlé Sap, “Great Lake” in Khmer, is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and one of the unique geographical wonders of the world. The ecological system surrounding the lake was nominated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for its conservation in 1997.

The lake is linked to the Mekong river from Vietnam through Tonle Sap river. For most of the year the lake is fairly small, around one meter deep. During the monsoon season, Tonle Sap river which flows into the Mekong, reverses it’s flow, and the water is pushed up into the lake, increasing its area ten times its size and depth! The enormous wetlands thus created support a tremendous amount of biodiversity including plants, reptiles, mammals, fish & birds. The people who live at the lakeside are sustained by the waters of the lake.

There is annual Water Festival held at Phnom Penh, where Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers meet. This year the festival was cancelled due to excessive flooding.

More about Tonle Sap lake.

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. Amazing colors!! Super pictures!!!

  2. janina says:

    An interesting post, with pix which are lovely, of an extraordinary lifestyle. I have seen on TV documentaries other similar places such as in Peru, Lake Titicaca I think, and even in Vietnam itself, although on the sea. Man’s ingenuity and adaptability knows no bounds! Liked.

  3. Once I saw a documentary about people living on these boats, very interesting and alternative form of living compared to what we’re used to in the Western world.

    1. Yes, and their way of living is so unique! Loved Cambodia and wish I can visit other parts of it soon!

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