During my 2nd day in Siem Reap, I decided to go on an adventure to a floating village way out in the countryside of Cambodia called Kampong Pluk (which means “Harbor of the Tusks”). Earlier this year I visited a fishing village in northern Kyoto called Ine, and this village actually had some interesting similarities to it. Like Ine, Kampong Pluk primarily relies on fishing as its main source of income and is quite remote from the main part of the city. Though it’s a popular tourist destination, it has an extremely rural feel to it and a lot of ground to explore.
I booked an extremely cheap group tour from GetYourGuide and it was actually a very pleasant journey. I was transported to Tonle Sap Lake by an air-conditioned bus where I later boarded a longboat to explore the stilted village. It was really amazing to see all of the different buildings there! I saw a floating church, hospital, and several temples in addition to many brightly painted houses. You can even opt to stay at a floating guesthouse if you feel adventurous enough to do it.
The longboat will eventually pull up to a plot of land that you can walk around. Here you can learn more about the culture of the village and see how exactly how people live here. It was interesting acquainting myself with the way people live in the countryside of Cambodia, but it was also disheartening to learn that a lot of people live in poverty here and depend on fishing as their sole source of income without higher education or many other options.
I was also informed by my guide (who used to live here) that some families live off rice and develop alcohol and smoking issues, so while the trip was fun, I couldn’t help but feel a bit melancholy… Another sad thing is not much of the money you pay for the tour goes to the village. I think they should offer more volunteer programs for tourists here so the villagers can benefit in some way. I donated a bit, and I’m not sure how much it will help, but all we can really do is continue to be grateful for the things we have in life. The trip to this village really taught me to be thankful for my ability to travel, and also everything I have.
The tour ended on a very enjoyable note as we watched the sunset on Tonle Sap Lake. There is literally nothing obstructing your view so you can see it perfectly. You can also go swimming in the lake if you want to cool down because the boat stops here for quite some time.
Cambodia is a great country to explore just because it has a lot of untouched nature and is safe for young backpackers. Most of the people on this tour were in their 20s (around my age) and were all interested in learning more about this country’s culture, so it was easy to converse and make friends. I listened to music a lot and reflected on life. It was hard to believe that this was only my second day, because a lot more adventures were about to come!