Siem Reap | Sunset at Tonlé Sap Lake


siem reap, cambodia, tonle sap lake, floating village, sunsetI love a good sunset or sunrise. So I was pleased to see that our custom itinerary in Siem Reap, Cambodia included an item titled “Sunset at Floating Village on Tonlé Sap Lake.”siem reap, cambodia, tonle sap lake, floating village, sunsetFloating Village.What is the Floating Village? It’s exactly what it sounds like: a village — where people live, eat, sleep and work — floating atop Tonlé Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia.siem reap, cambodia, tonle sap lake, floating village, sunsetMost people make a living fishing.According to our tour guide, there are three groups of residents at the Floating Village: Khmer people (Cambodians) who can’t afford land, Cambodian Muslims known as the Cham people and, in a separate part of the village, displaced Vietnamese people of ambiguous immigration/citizenship status who are not wholly welcome in Cambodia or Vietnam. The Cambodian government attempted to repatriate them back to Vietnam but they were refused by the Vietnamese government.siem reap, cambodia, tonle sap lake, floating village, sunsetDespite some ethnic tensions between the Khmer and Vietnamese Cambodians, they seem to peacefully coexist in the Floating Village, which is a major tourist attraction in Siem Reap. It’s no Angkor Wat, but it is a nice, peaceful way to end the day after sightseeing at various temples.siem reap, cambodia, tonle sap lake, floating village, sunsetThere are a couple big (floating) restaurants/stores where tourist boats dock. These restaurants have large, second-story decks from which to enjoy the sunset. It was particularly crowded so our tour guide instead asked our boat captain to take us farther out into the lake, where we could watch the sunset by ourselves.siem reap, cambodia, tonle sap lake, floating village, sunsetBeautiful colors.We were there during the dry season, when the water level is low and the village moves down toward the middle part of the lake. During monsoon season, the water level rises way above the tops of the trees that were visible during our visit.siem reap, cambodia, tonle sap lake, floating village, sunsetGoodbye, sun.It was hard for me to wrap my head around such an existence — not quite nomadic but not quite rooted either. As the sun set, it got not quite chilly (the daytime highs were, after all, around 100 degrees) but almost cool(-ish). But in the middle of the day, with no shade around and nothing but miles of water attracting the sunlight, it is hot out there on the lake.siem reap, cambodia, tonle sap lake, floating village, sunsetAnother highlight of the sunset boat tour: Kail got to steer our boat back to the main dock. Just briefly, for fear he’d run us aground since the water was so shallow.It was a great way to spend not only our last night in Siem Reap, but our last night of our R&R to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Up next: RRB to the Philippines!Of the three countries we visited on this trip, where would you like to visit?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

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