Siem Reap – 5

Locals biking along a small creek with dry fields behind.

Close to the floating village of Kampong Phluk we switched from the tuk tuk to a long boat build for touring the Tonle Sap lake area. The lake level changes drastically in the rainy season, but now was low enough to make maneuvering the long boat difficult, and the views of the villages spectacular. The boats had oversided motors, the propellor was attached to a long pole that sprayed water everywhere when the water level was too low (then the driver switched to poling the boat), and the whole thing was steered using string attached to the steering wheel. I tried dropping my hydrophone into the water, but it hit debris almost every second, mostly bits of wood or grass. Below is a clip (not hydrophone) of our boat poling along , being passed by other boats using their engines, and eventually we start our own motor. You can hear insects, children and villagers on shore, as well as generators used for to power power tools. Here is a challenge for all musicians out there – transcribe the beat made by the other engine – you will hear which one I mean!

Some of the houses were 10 meters off the ground, and apparently the water rises to within 1-2 meters of the floors in the rainy season. Now, chickens and kids moved about in the shade and dry leaves below the houses. There were people on boats along the narrow canal; some had boats that were their houses, others had piles of nets or stacks of shrimp traps ready to head out onto the lake.

We stopped at one village, Kampong Phluk, and wandered around. Most of the houses were smaller versions of the one in the photo above, and others were made of more fabricated materials like plank wood or metal roofing. We were asked to buy school supplies for the local school, and were to give them to a class ourselves. Outside the school, kids in uniforms were running around – it looked and sounded like recess at any school in the world.