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Tonlé Sap: Villages on Cambodia's Great Lake


After I wrote a few words about the floating fisherman's villages in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, I was asked by one of the TG Gurus whether I had seen more such villages in the region. I replied that the villages on the edges of the huge  Tonlé Sap lake were in some respects, similar, but were mainly anchored on earth but on very long stilt foundations so as to remain above the lake level when the monsoons arrive.

1-Tonle Sap Village-83846-Tonle Sap Village-8400

The Tonlé Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and is an ecological hot spot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997.

2-Tonle Sap Village-83854-Tonle Sap Village-8389

The Tonlé Sap is unusual for two reasons: its flow changes direction twice a year, and the portion that forms the lake expands and shrinks dramatically with the seasons. From November to May, Cambodia's dry season, the TonlÉ Sap drains into the Mekong River at Phnom Penh. However, when the year's heavy rains begin in June, the Tonlé Sap backs up to form an enormous lake.

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These photos were taken in February when the climate was quite well into the dry season as you can see from the way that the houses all appear to be standing on what is effectively the river bank complete with boats speeding by.

5-Tonle Sap Village-839810-Tonle Sap Village-845711-Tonle Sap Village-8479

Amongst the photos, keep an eye out for the pair of fishermen standing in the river with their nets at the ready. You will see that one of them is wearing an inflated tire inner tube. As I watched him he plunged into the waters and showed every indication of not being able to swim—hence needing the inner tube! I guess you have to be doubly brave to be a fisherman in those circumstances!!

9-Tonle Sap Village-8450


Images (11)
  • 1-Tonle Sap Village-8384
  • 2-Tonle Sap Village-8385
  • 3-Tonle Sap Village-8388
  • 4-Tonle Sap Village-8389
  • 5-Tonle Sap Village-8398
  • 6-Tonle Sap Village-8400
  • 7-Tonle Sap Village-8422
  • 8-Tonle Sap Village-8445
  • 9-Tonle Sap Village-8450
  • 10-Tonle Sap Village-8457
  • 11-Tonle Sap Village-8479

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."  Henry Miller

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