The Floating Village

9 Nov

It poured rain in Siem Reap all night long, so when we woke up we didn’t want to risk using a day of our Angkor Wat pass with less than fair weather. Instead, we told our TukTuk driver to just take us somewhere other than the mystical and awe-inspiring ancient ruins of the once scared city.  He did just that.

Floating Village Houses

We paid our 15$ fair and were the only two to board our small boat. Our driver/guide was a high school student working through his lunch break driving his uncle’s boat. He began by pointing out some points of interest, “That is the floating gas station. That is the floating Catholic Church. This is the floating alligator farm.” “The what? Never mind, why?”  Just then a  young boy rowed up to our boat in a huge cooking pot with an eight foot python wrapped around his body asking for one dollar and it was more than difficult to smile and say no. Our guide had explicitly told us not to give any money to begging children because “making money” for their family simply meant they were being kept out of school to do so.

Our tour continued on through the 100 or so floating wooden houses, shops, churches, and schools and we were shocked to see that most of the homes had a dog and many had televisions that were really quite modern considering the fact that we were looking at one or two roomed wooden shacks build on stilts in the water. “There is a floating basketball court. Oh, and that is the orphanage and school”. Driving at a very slow pace it took only half an hour to go all the way through the village which ended as the small water way opened up into the Tonle Sap Lake (the largest freshwater lake in S.E. Asia).

Floating Village House

We floated on the lake for awhile while our driver laid out the reality of the residents in the village.  The boat drivers, who lived on land, were paid a small salary from the 15$ fee but mostly it went to the government and whether any of it actually got back to the floating village was questionable. He explained that the villagers actually picked up and moved further toward the lake in the dry season and back again when the rains started. Clearly they were there because purchasing or renting land was not in their budgets. Many of them were fishermen who traveled far out into the lake to cast their nets and during the storms of the rainy season some just never make it back.

On the return back through the village our guide asked if we were interested in visiting the orphanage school, as teachers, it was the only place we were interested in. We stopped by the floating general store to buy some things for the kids and quickly realized yet again that we wished we had been more prepared for where we ended up that day.  Due to transporting costs and a little “tourist charge”, we spent 50$ on two large cases of Roman Noodles and 24 pencils before heading to the school.

The entire school was like a floating wooden dock about the size of a tennis court, in which more than 150 kids lived and went to school. We dropped off the food and pencils with the teacher, eyed the classroom, and then eased our way out onto the “playground” with the kids.  The kids spoke zero English and we clearly had no knowledge of their language so the connections began with the universal high five. Not long after that, our bodies seemed to have turned into small jungle gyms. A little boy with deep eyes and a dirty face literally climbed up my leg and wrapped his arms around my neck. I spun, dipped, and twirled him around and as I went to set him down again quickly realized he had no intention of letting go, so the remainder of the afternoon was simply spent hugging.

In the end, we left leaving a little little food, some pencils, a thousand hugs, and a piece of our hearts in the orphanage in the floating village, next to the town of Siem Reap, shadowed by the majestic ruins of Angkor Wat.


9 Responses to “The Floating Village”

  1. Shashi Harmon November 10, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    Wow! What a great adventure. I think I could feel those that little peki peki rock’n and roll’n…Love you! Mom

  2. Amy Brook November 11, 2010 at 11:39 pm #

    Lovely story and well written Farra and accompanied by beautiful photos too Kate!!

    Also loving the ‘Great Escapers’ name…. 🙂

    Would love to be able to do the same thing one day… looks fantastic!!

    • Ya, cok saol canim! Thanks, we’re putting a lot of time into upcoming articles and improvements mate so subscribe. I’m dying to take Kate to Turkey to shoot sometime in the not too too far away. Send my love to the your precious family… seni cok ozledyim…

    • Krystal N Martin November 14, 2010 at 7:23 am #

      I completely agree with Ms. Brook. The story is very well written. In addition, it completely captures the attention and the heart of it’s reader. Great name! I hope to join the adventure sooner than later. Thank you for sharing with us.

  3. Connie Henderson November 13, 2010 at 2:50 am #

    Farrah, Wow!!! Pictures are great!!! Can’t wait to see more!! You are having a great time with your life and getting to do so much!! Would love to have enjoyed some of those sweet hugs!! Love Ya! Connie

  4. Michele Woodcock January 25, 2011 at 3:52 am #

    I just did this exact same trip- 3 weeks ago! I even stayed at LaLaanta!!!!! Small world! I loved every second of it and can see you did as well! I wish my pictures came out the way yours did! You are SOOO talented! good luck!

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