My concluding Picture of the Day for this calendar year found its fitting place at this spectacular destination—the Tonle Sap Lake in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Distinguished as the largest body of fresh water in Southeast Asia, and among the largest in the entire world, it is like an entire city laid out over an ocean, for indeed the dimensions of this particular entity are massive and akin to experiencing the distant horizons of the wide seas. Boats, catamarans, kayaks and rafts are the usual possessions of the inhabitants on this lake, while a few large vessels the size of ships could be also be seen far away in its deeper parts.
The arrivals and departures of the annual south west monsoon mean that the lake swells or shrinks periodically but at the heart of its sprawl little does change, with only the nearby Kampong Phluk becoming submerged or surfaced respectively. There are fully equipped homes and cafes standing tall, strong and proud in the water, their foundations anchored firmly either to the lakebed or even beds of tangled reeds and waterweed. The pictures taken here are from one such restaurant that we had visited for the express purpose of enjoying the sunset but the day having turned for the worse and a storm playing spoilsport we instead had the chance to simply ponder on other forms of existential crisis!
As the squall descended on us with full force right after we had landed on this floating eating place, discussion inevitably turned to how early we should get ready to leave and return to town and to our hotels. It was obvious though that it would not be soon enough, and we would have to wait out the full course of the tempest before it was deemed safe to ply the waters again. It eventually turned out that the return would have to be timed at least an hour before the 'usual' timing given better weather and a bright, sunny and dry day. No one seemed to be upset with this, having already run out of options at this unfamiliar spot where we were more or less stranded.
While a small alligator farm and the information board kept most of us tourists occupied, I found a solitary spot by the water's edge and sampled the last of my local delicacies—this time a rich stew of meat and rice with a plentiful serving of vegetables and herbs, and paired with an equally 'healthy' avocado smoothie (instead of the beer or cocktail planned earlier for the sunset)—and chased the various moods of the water as it ebbed and flowed. The long weekend in Siem Reap was drawing to a close, and I had never felt so well rested and rejuvenated in a long, long time.