Life in a Floating Village

I was born in  San Francisco, living my carefree babyhood on a gently rocking houseboat on the bay. A floating home in a village of floating homes. At that time it was not unusual. Today such a sight would be unheard of--impossible!

With that said,  I would not have imagined visiting Cambodia and experiencing first hand how thousands of Cambodians and Vietnamese gather in floating villages built above the water of the Tonle Sap River in their makeshift homes anchored on wooden stilts.   Water is the life blood of Cambodia and both the Tonle Sap River and Lake are at its center.  This great lake is central to the country's rivers, reservoirs, fishing and irrigated rice fields. What a gift to be able to visit these people.

Entire villages comprised of infants to wise elders live along the muddy, florid watery banks; they make their living from fishing, form deep communal ties,  enjoy markets and schools. Their thriving communities are built entirely on bits and pieces of wood planks, rubber tires and tree trunks, with walls and roofs made of anything available, corrugated cardboard to tin. Each home is distinct with its own personality.

Children have few places to play except in the brackish water or on the shallow banks. They learn at a very early age to swim, navigate boats on the river, and have fun with the simplest of items. I have tremendous respect for these wonderful, friendly, beautiful people and their culture.

Brown bare bottoms are the norm. It is HOT HOT HOT in Cambodia. Besides there is little money for clothing. I would think it possible to live one's life with out the 'purchase' of something new to wear.  Material goods have little impact, other than items needed to fish, maintain boats, cooking utensils....

Fishing is their main livelihood. This lake and river, like so many other places in the world, are threatened by over population, pollution, over fishing and lack of resources for restoration.

You will find a school, market, place of worship and stations to purchase petrol dotted along the riverbanks....all floating! One school was over flowing with children, a wonder it didn't tip!!!  You could hear their delightful laughter from far away. The Cambodia children are ALWAYS smiling.

I like to imagine that this home belongs to a very successful fisherman and family. The long boats to the right are typical modes of transportation.

Ya, mama, this is my type of home....wonder if it has a stunning sunset or sunrise view...looks like someone is enjoying a mid morning nap.

This is a typical boat that you would see on the river....yes, that is a snake the little boy is holding. The family are hoping that you will give them a dollar to take their picture. A dollar can put a dinner on the table.  I gave them two dollars to keep the snake AWAY!!!

Women and children quickly gather when "tourists" pass through. One should travel with many dollars, as there are so many eager hands. I realize the pros and cons to handing out money, but my heart can't turn someone away. 

A talented photographer, writer and friend, Cheryl Bikman who lives in Singapore has  wonderful  posts on Bali and Cambodia. Awaiting Winter

Paintings donated to a Middle School Library.
"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."
                                                                 Albert Einstein

1 comment:

  1. There's something so appealing about the simplicity of living one's life on a boat..on a muddy river. Love these images. They really tell a story.


Thank you for visiting my blog today. I appreciate the time you take to say hello. Warmly, Sharon