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Tonle SAP Lake

Arriving in Cambodia in just 3 days, one of them without any hesitation, we decided to dedicate the trip on… the lake. But this is no ordinary lake, not such at least as we imagine. Tonle SAP can probably be compared with lake Baikal in South-East Asia, is so great importance that place plays in the lives of millions of people!

So, what is this miracle is?

Tonle SAP – the huge lake on the Indochinese Peninsula (and in all of Southeast Asia, probably). It is entirely within the territory of Cambodia and its waters wash the shores of the 5 provinces of the country. In the dry season is a relatively small reservoir with an area of 3000 km2 and depth of about 1 meter. But in the rainy season can sometimes be a wonderful thing: the lake area is increased in 5-6 times, and reaches a depth of 9 meters! Tonle SAP is the source of life for millions of Cambodians who not only feed and earn money through fishing in the lake, but literally living on it! This is one of the few places on Earth where there is an authentic water villages, one of which we went on the sunset of Siem Reap.

To the lake from the town is only 20 kilometers. For normal roads it’s not a distance at all. But for Cambodia, where most of the country roads the concept is very conditional, 20 miles is a long way for almost an hour!

Such a familiar sight to Cambodian villages!:)

We got there by tuk-tuk, with a driver which is arranged to travel in advance. For the money everything worked out quite expensive. The previous day at the same tuk-tuk we rode 12 hours at Angkor Wat, a trip to the lake it took us half a day. It seems that in all the time we paid him around 25 or 30$ is a ridiculous price for tourists and a lot of money for a poor local population!

At the entrance to the Tonle SAP. You can only move on the boats, our tuk-tuk literally floated in a foot of water.

The houses of the local population that builds on these piles. Especially in the rainy season the water rises a few meters away from the pond.

Almost the entire perimeter of the lake are the villages. Through one of them we passed. It was something! Houses with thatched roofs on “chicken legs”, children playing in the mud, cows ruling the streets as people, the huge TVs inside the “houses” that have through the roof the sky is visible, absolutely dark unlit streets, incredible sounds of nature around, the cicadas, the silence of the night blowing their trills… I was both a shock and a desire to stay here in this village with local, blow the entire RAID civilization and stereotypes, and feel actually all the material matter in our lives!

But this is philosophy, and I’m here about the lake, like, was going to write 🙂

Now we were lucky because we arrived there in the rainy season, and the lake overflowed on all its power and width. Taking a boat on hire for any money (it was so inexpensive that I don’t remember prices), we are fisherman and our driver tuk-tuk, which had 2 days already to make friends, went to the village on the water. It is located 10 or 15 miles from the nearest shore and had to go 40 minutes. But as the time we chose very well and came at sunset, on the way admiring the sun, which is already a little bit hidden in the deep waters of the Tonle SAP.

Swam in the village. From the first minutes amazes all! Their boat is the same integral attribute of life, as we do, the toothbrush, for example. We told our new friend that many of these people NEVER were on land!

Children here seem to learn to control the boat even before she could walk.

Kids coming home from school:)

The entire life of the villages is tied to fishing. Tonle SAP for Cambodians real gift of the Buddha! This is one of the richest fish lakes in the world! Here from 1 hectare catch more than 100 pounds of fish! Recently, however, rises to the fishermen of attention from tourists, the Khmer Rouge began little by little to benefit from this. For example, now you will have the opportunity to stop at the “Central” pier village and dinner in a very civilized by the standards of the Cambodian restaurant.

The temple is the only stone building. All other buildings – from leaves and wood.

And, you can take a small boat and to sail on the narrow canals around the centre of the village, looking literally half a meter into the homes of local residents. But we do not have, as the sun was already quite low, and to spend the night in this amazing place of desire as something not at all))

We drove to the outskirts of the village, where already started “big water”. There we met the sunset, amidst the boundless waters of the largest lake in Asia, surrounded by mangrove forests and picturesque fishing boats.

Ashore we returned in complete darkness! On our boat there was not a single lantern or lamp, if the sound was heard the approach of someone else, our driver just took out from his pocket a small flashlight and blinked them, showing their location! At first it was scary and creepy: it’s not every day you Wade in deep waters and the wild, except fish inhabit still don’t get any creatures, very conditionally safe going.the tool without any precautions and even without light! But then I relaxed and even began to enjoy: it was so dark, lying on the stern of the boat, we saw the starry sky on which were scattered millions of stars! In Asia is so wonderful to be a fatalist! And often this can be the only condition conducive to your pleasant and unforgettable vacation. )