We’d finally arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Our days in SE Asia were dwindling and we made the decision to check out Siem Reap and try to locate all our content in that one city. What we found was actually a wild young tuk tuk driver named Sina that could make it all happen… if he wasn’t too hungover.
We had less than five days and needed to find some local food and investigate something more than the obvious Angkor Wat temple. As legendary as it is, we wanted to find a story that was more personal. Sina sold us on the floating village tour. By the end of the day he’d also sold us another adventure- a visit to a temple lying on the border between Thailand and Cambodia and which was currently under contention. It sounded like he could get us into the temple to take some photos and maybe even meet some of the Cambodian troops but we’d have to hire a driver to make the long day drive out there and then camp the night. As much as we wanted to, we just couldn’t spare 2 days covering that story line. So, we opted for the floating village. It was worth it.
The journey began with a tuk tuk drive out of town and once outside the city, the pretty facade of Siem Reap fades away and the scene of poverty fills in. Houses, if they can be called that, rested on awkward poles rising out of the mud. The river is littered and the bushes are strewn with old plastic bottles and other trash. And I thought parts of Laos were bad. I’d have to say Cambodia was in much poorer shape.
The tuk tuk ride ends at a pier where throngs of long tailed boats shuttle herds of tourists down the river. The ride is nothing too interesting until about 45 mins later, the river opens up on the lake and in the distance you can make out the floating village.
It was a day of observation, taking in sights I’d never seen before: a floating school, an orphanage, a floating store, fishermen gathering a day’s catch. Yeah, we spent some money and sure our dollars fueled this tourist attraction but I couldn’t imagine leaving there and not wanting to do more for the people. Maybe a bit on the contrived side , but I ‘d still recommend seeing the village if you’re in Siem Reap.
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