The Tonle SAP lake in Siem reap
The Tonle SAP (Tonle Sap Lake) is one of the most popular attractions near the city of Siem reap in Cambodia, of course, besides the temples of Angkor. Despite the fact that many tourists call the place a "trap for tourists", the place is quite interesting and exotic.
Second name Tonle SAP lake - the "Big lake", because it is the largest lake in Southeast Asia. When you look at this huge water mirror, especially in the rainy season, it becomes clear admiration of the locals before the "Inland sea of Cambodia" with an area of 16 thousand square km (for comparison, the area of the Moscow region only 47 thousand km square). The maximum depth of the lake is 9 meters. But these figures are valid only for the rainy season when the lake is filled with water and increases in size almost six times compared to the dry season and the depth of the lake at this time rarely exceeds 1 meter. This changing character of the lake is the resultant eponymous river, which in the rainy season that changes direction and turns back, filling it with water. And because of these large-scale changes in size and periodically shifted many kilometers of shoreline around the lake and it formed an unusual life – a lot of floating villages. Indeed, thanks to the ever-changing water level people can grow rice in the fertile after lowering the water level the soil in the dry season, collect shellfish and catch fish all year round. And to keep up with periodically moving coastline, the locals decided not to move permanently from their homes, and just build them on the water. So here and formed the floating villages that attract tourists.
The "Foundation" homes "lake residents" in the floating villages are a cluster of boats, rafts, tied together drums and various other watercraft, indescribable. They are located not only housing, but also small plots of land, where the locals manage to grow vegetables and Pets. There is a restaurant for tourists, is also on the water, a small observation platform. Floating crocodile farm - the mandatory tour. But on the lake the crocodiles do not swim, the local fauna is quite harmless.
Even without tourists, life here goes on as usual: children attend the floating school, police station, village club. The way to school some children overcome... floating in large basins. The adult population of the village, as if noticing the concerned eyes of tourists, leisurely continuing their regular classes. Small, tanned men fish, which is especially rich in the Tonle SAP, extract of molluscs, weave networks. Moreover, women work alongside men. What is striking is the constant smiles on their faces.
But the local population does not live in the last century. The houses have electricity (from generators), the wealthy owners have TVs and even Internet access.
In these villages people live a lifetime, right on the beach, move only by boat, many houses next to small vegetable gardens, where they grow vegetables. On the same rafts built shops, schools, temples. Residents are engaged primarily in fishing. The lake water is nasty yellow color. It's amazing how they manage to drink it. However, they have no choice.
Among the villages there are inhabited exclusively by illegal immigrants from other countries, mostly from Vietnam. The fact that they are forbidden to settle on land, so they huddle in the water. Estimated lake residents from 100 thousand to 2 million.
How to visit lake Tonle SAP
The lake is about 15 kilometers from Siem Reap.
The easiest way to visit the lake, buy a tour in one of the travel agencies in Siem Reap, Battambang, Phnom Penh. The cost of these trips ranges from $ 19. You will be taken to the lake by bus, transplanted to the boat and will carry on the lake, landing on "land" in the village. Some tours also include visiting crocodile and fish farms. A visit to the lake is included in some tours to Cambodia from Thailand, in particular Pattaya.
Another way to look at the lake, just to sail by speed boat from Phnom Penh or Battambang to Siem reap. This method is a very popular to move between cities, but look at brown's life and you can only from the side: the boat disembarks passengers on the floating village. And in the dry season much of the way passes on the bus.
Yourself lake can be visited, arriving to the pier by tuk-tuk ($5) and hiring on the shore of a private pleasure boat ($5 per boat). But be prepared for the fact that you try to breed for a walk on the pricey branded boat which tuk-Tucker will not be delivered at the local Marina, and on a special tourist Marina. The cost of walking on the boat there will be from 20 dollars per person. So ask tuk-Tucker to take you directly to the pier "Chong Khneas boat docks", "Port of Chong Khneas".
For the entrance to the floating village will be charged 1 dollar.
- Access to the lake is best during the rainy season when the lake is deep, starting in June.
- Do not wear pure white clothes, stain her in dirty water.
- It is better to leave a lot of money in the hotel safe, and a lake, just bring a few dollars to eat and small gifts if you will go to the lake alone or with a guided tour, you will try to breed for money.
- If you are not an experienced independent traveler, it's better to refrain from self-organization of trips to the lake and buy a tour. Independent trip you can do much more.
Author: I. Photo used from the site myasiatravel