While we were in Cambodia, we visited the floating villages, located not too far from the city of Siem Reap. We took a boat ride down the muddy river which took about 30 minutes:
Along the way, I was reminded that we were definitely in the 3rd world. As I said, and as you can see, the water was very muddy and the amount of garbage leading up to the road was a lot.
But the clincher was the amount of small children swimming (naked) in the river. For whatever reason, that is a distinguishing characteristic for me of the developing world – small kids swimming in the river without clothes without any adult supervision. In the developed world, that type of stuff just doesn’t happen.
Anyhow, we got to the floating villages and it looks just like it sounds – houses that are floating and arranged in a village. But it’s not houseboats. The buildings are larger and they don’t have motors (at least I couldn’t see where they were). The guide told us that the places could move but I didn’t see how they were motorized.
What separates these buildings from other floating villages I have seen (such as in Peru on Lake Titicaca) is that they are wooden platforms and they are fairly large.
For example, this one is a store and a family lives there.
Below are pictures of a church and a large store. You may be tempted to think that these buildings are not far from land, but you’d be wrong. There’s no land for as far as the eye can see. There’s just water everywhere.
They do have some of the services of a real town. Below is a post office. How functioning is it?
I don’t know.
Even more fascinating to me is that some of the buildings had satellite dishes. You can see one on the top of the porch in the building below.
How do they get electricity? They use car batteries. That caught me off-guard. They need car batteries to power their satellite dishes. I wonder how many of them have X-Boxes?
How deep is the water? It varies depending on the time of year (rainy vs dry). The river we rode in on wasn’t anymore than two meters, although we were also in dry season. Out on the lake it was a bit deeper but I forgot to ask how deep it was.
In the general store pictured above, one thing that was especially cool was a crocodile pit.
In Cambodia, crocodile farming used to be a lucrative business and crocodile meat and skin commanded a hefty premium in the open market. But the government got involved and started regulating it and profitability dropped. People still do it, but there is less money in it now and it is not as profitable.
Below are a couple of pictures, the pit is about six feet deep. There is a railing around the croc area, and then the pit where the actual crocs are. I wasn’t sure how many there were, but I estimated at least 7 or 8. The dimensions of the pit weren’t very large either, maybe 30 feet long by 10 feet across.
Mean looking suckers, wouldn’t you say?
And that’s the story of our trip to the floating villages of Cambodia.