Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Kampong Phluk’s Floating Village and Forest - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Do you wanna swim on the lake?
Huh? I can?
Yes.
Ok...

That was our boat driver urging me and my buddy to jump into the Tonle Sap Lake. As if knowing my love affair with waters, he gave his most convincing grin that set me off to his crazy idea (totally forgetting that I’m not wearing my bikinis).

Kampong Phluk is one of the three Khmer villages (the two others are Chong Kneas and Kompong Khlean) in Siem Reap Province that is inhabited through stilted houses around the Tonle Sap Lake. During the months of August to January, the whole village is flooded and the locals use their boats to navigate around the community. During the dry season, water level is usually low making it hard for a boat tour around the village.

This trip is part of the three-day tour arranged by Ms.Chhorpoan of Happy Guesthouse ($40 for the three-day tour excluding fees and temple pass). Our tuk tuk driver, Nga, was introduced to us that afternoon and I could write a whole post about this super nice guy. He doesn’t speak good English at that time (sign language overload) but we really felt how sincere he was in showing us his native land. He wasn’t stern on time schedules and was so considerate on our requests (read:more more landscape photography). He uses his ‘waiting’ time lounging on his hammock (tied on his tuk tuk) holding a Khmer-English Dictionary. He’s really nice (check here for discounted tours, transportation and activities in Siem Reap).

Siem Reap Cambodia Tours

Siem Reap Cambodia Tours

We went on that sunshiny afternoon on our first destination. The almost one hour ride from downtown Siem Reap gave me and my buddy the lull time to relax. Arriving at the Kampong Phluk’s Eco-Tourism office, we paid $20 each for the private boat tour around the Kampong Phluk’s floating village. Our boat driver (a local from the village) settled our boat and then we rocked and rolled inside our huge party boat.

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

The scenic boat ride towards the village provides a glimpse on the centuries-old way of life of the floating village people. Houses, schools, pagodas, and other structures on stilts surrounded the banks. Locals doing their daily tasks climbing up and down the almost three-storey high stilts are a common scene. They are dwelling, settling and surviving in this kind of life. 

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Kids are such an amazing sight. Their playground is the huge flooded area with their boats. I kept on imagining how these kids manage to go to school everyday having to climb a hundred flights or so. And then how about during dry season? I wish I could go back here when it’s really flooded up to their houses’ base or when it’s really dry. 

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

After passing through the village, our boat driver led us to the floating/flooded mangrove forest. A fee of $5 each person is posed for those who’d want to experience it. We availed of this and a local lady canoe paddler toured us around the mangrove forest.

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

I love the flooded forest. I felt a distinct kind of stillness inside it. We navigated around the route on a very relaxed phase. The splashing sound of the paddle as the lady glides in through the forest was soothing. During the course of the ride, I laid down on the mat, put down my camera and just puffed out a sigh of relief and contentment. It was really that relaxing.

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Caution: Please be careful on loading (or unloading) the canoe. Someone soaked himself whilst getting off the canoe *winks*.

Right after the floating mangrove forest tour, our cool and hippie boat driver (I’m still in the process of recalling his name in this mid-part of my post) led us to the Tonle Sap Lake. The lake was such a sight to see. The mystery on what’s inside it left me stumped. And then the boat driver popped up the question;

Do you wanna swim on the lake?
Huh? I can?
Yes.
Ok...

The raging murky waters were kinda calling me. Water. My weakness. And before they could even start to cheer for me on jumping into the lake, I stripped off my shirt and went to the bow of the boat and yelled out my count down.

And then I jumped. Not thinking about crocs or snakes. I just jumped.

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

My eyes were wide open under the water. It was murky and muddy. My body pulled itself on the surface and shouted my astonishment on what I just did. It was such a great feeling. It topped my tranquillity mode on the mangrove forest a while back. Cheers from the boat surrounded everywhere. And then panic.

At that point, the underwater current was so strong that although I tried to swim towards the boat my body seemed steady on where I was. It isn’t saltwater so I was having a hard time to keep myself up. The huge waves kept on pushing me away from the boat and then I started to shout at them that I needed help. And then I shouted again that I’m serious.

After struggling to come near the boat, a rope was thrown on me and I began to pull myself up on the now wobbly boat. The boat driver held on to the rope as I struggle to bring myself up the boat. And then finally, I reached the bow again. I slumped into the boat, regained myself back and started to laugh.

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

We then saw a boat peddler where we bought some beers and chilled on our party boat. Laughter spread around the lake like there’s no tomorrow. Our boat driver speaks good English and he couldn’t stop sharing his stories about living in the village until we ran out of beers and decided to go back.

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Siem Reap Cambodia Kampong Phluk Floating Village Tonle Sap Lake

Me and my buddy were drenched (me on the lake, him on the mangrove forest) that we couldn’t wait to get back on our tuk tuk and tell Nga what happened to both of us. And as expected, we were all laughing inside the tuk tuk as we progressed to check out some temples nearby.

Our Kampong Phluk tour is such an experience. Thanks to the scenic view and our misadventures. The moral of the story? Always wear your bikini. Haha.







6 comments:

  1. I wasn't able to go here when we went to Siem Reap. Dapat talagang bumalik. hehehe

    ReplyDelete
  2. my ganito pala sa siem reap? Kala ko naikot ko na lahat. Hahaha at talagang kawalan ng beer ang nagpabalik sa inyo. Sana 3 case dinala nyo. Hahaha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha. Tindera na naka bangka yun Julius. Time's up na rin kami sa boat. Hihi

      Delete
  3. Wow ang tapang mo nagswim ka talaga 0_0

    Aliw talaga mga bagets dyan haha unpredictable mga next activities nila

    ReplyDelete