The Tonle Sap Lake is the largest fresh water lake/river opening in Cambodia. Chances are, the fish you ate from lunch is from this lake. About 11km from Siem Reap is floating village called Chong Khneas. Yep, it’s just what it sounds like. It’s a floating village comprised of fishing boats, floating school houses, and floating shops. Our taxi driver dropped us off with a skinny teenaged Cambodian kid who looked like he couldn’t even lift a 5 lb weight. Turns out, him and his 4’4″ little brother were the boat’s captain and first mate… and they’d put ‘roids shooting HS football players to shame.

They ferried us down the mouth of the river past lines of houses with little kids swimming in the water during recess or ladies in door to door canoe shops. At one point, our 15 year old captain pointed at a pig in a floating crate and said: “Pig Farm!”. Hm, I’m not sure PETA would’ve considered him free-range. Finally, we got to the open lake and for miles upon miles it was just murky brown water. There, we went into a floating tourist trap shop complete with an alligator crocodile alligator farm. For $80 USD, you can have your very own alligator meal.

Three things to keep in mind when you’re at Chong Khneas/Floating Village:

1. Kids: There are a TON of kids that swarm around you for money anytime you hit land. Since we weren’t going to pass out money as if we were Scrooge McDuck, we bought candy and passed out candy instead. If they wanted it, they’d take it, but if they didn’t then they didn’t. But like most children, they took the candy and left you alone… for awhile.

2. Not a lively bubbling fun place: To tell you the truth, it was rather difficult for me to witness rural poverty. There’s a little bit of a debate to whether these people were poor considering they had a fishing boat and lived on their livelihood, but the people living on the dirt road leading up to the lake were definitely poor. It was interesting to see a village floating on the water, but in all honesty, I felt like a big douche for exploiting their lives for my touristy adventures. Look! Kid shitting into the water! While I think that it’s important for Americans to realize exactly how much we have in our lives, not everyone may agree. Your thoughts?

3. Not a long excursion: We basically went up the river and to the tourist trap store and came right back. In total, we probably only spent about an hour to 1.5 hours on our excursion, including driving time. Other ferries with nicer boats and boatloads of tourists went by us, but whatever tour they were on looked a lot more expensive. We were happy with our teenaged boat staff with limited English. Since everything in Cambodia is dirt cheap, I can honestly tell you I don’t remember the boat trip costing too much. You’ll probably pay more for that Grande soy extra whip frappacchino at Starbucks.

*photos courtesy of Mabel

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