Tonle Sap, Largest Freshwater Lake in South East Asia
Thousands or maybe millions visitors visit Siem Reap for only one reason, Angkor Wat. That is going to change as there is another place is worth a visit in Siem Reap, the Tonle Sap Lake.
Why is this lake so worth visiting? For most of the year, the lake takes up 2,700 square km which is relatively small. However, during the monsoon the lake swelled to 16,000 square km which more than 5 times of its original size!
The journey from the Siem Reap to Chong Khneas will take approx half an hour of driving. At Chong Khneas, we took a small boat and sailed for half an hour to reach the great freshwater lake. Chong Kneas is the jetty for visitors to book a small boat to Lake Tonle Sap. Even the scenery at Chong Kneas river itself was unbelievable. There were water dwellers along this small river.
Lake Tonle Sap is actually also home to thousands who stays on the floating village. As we were sailing to the lake, we were greeted by smaller boats.
The children on these small boats offered to sell us food such as canned drinks. This is a common sight in Siem Reap.
We reached a floating restaurant in the middle of the village. The village comprises with hundreds of water dwellers.
The lake plays a huge part to the water dwellers. Their food and their income are heavily depending on the lake. Fishing is the easiest way to survive.
The water of the lake was brown in colour due to the river widening works at Chong Kneas. At first I thought it was muddy as well until the guide explained it to me.
Thus, they also caught a couple of wild crocodiles and kept it in captivity. This crocodiles might create danger to the villages or the boats if let loose in the lake.
The village is quite complete with a school for children and also a church for prayers. Most of these buildings are built with funding from various countries.
We might think that we are lucky of having a better living condition than them. However, in reality they are happy with their life. Almost all of them look happy because they had no worries and no stress in their life. This was told by my tour guide.
The few hours of adventure to Lake Tonle Sap reminded us how lucky we are compared to them. We have food on our plates daily and we have the power to choose, and yet we complained. Seeing their life makes us appreciate what we have more. The trip was an eye opener and I recommended this as part of your Siem Reap itinerary. Lake Tonle Sap tour can be booked in hotels or local tours in Siem Reap. Most tour guides in Siem Reap can speak English or bilingual. Hope you have a great time there.