“Discover a Cambodia beyond the temples and towns, a part of Cambodia in Chong Kneas that carries itself proudly even as its entire world floats on water.”
If you steer away from the towers of Angkor Wat and look beyond the smiling Buddha faces of Bayon,Cambodia floats calmly, quite literally, in a world of its own, Far from the clamour of the unofficial tourist capital,Siem Reap, the extraordinary village of Chong Kneas drifts over the waters of the Tonle Sap Lake. Here on the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, you will discover you sentiments fluctuate as greatly as the lives of those who live in Chong Kneas do with changing water levels. As visitors passed by large paddy fields, lotus farms and stilt houses nestled at random in them, they wondered what a floating civilization would be like.
The tuk-tuk ride from the city centre of Siem Reap was barely half an hour, and soon they were at the docks at the edge of Tonle Sap River that goes upstream to join the lake. There are plenty of colourful boats to choose from, and your best bet is an all-inclusive ride that shows you around the village in Chong Kneas. They hopped on to one of these as the young Cambodian boy pulled the cord and sputtering and gasping, the boat came to life. They moved up the stream sailing past kids collecting calms, passenger boats ferrying locals and tourists, fisherman out for a catch and unused boats parked on the banks like cars. In about 20 minutes, the stream expanded to became a vast water body, and they could see tiny ‘houses’ floating on it as gracefully as giant water lilies.
Go with the flow in Chong Kneas
Chong Kneas consists of eight villages with a total population of about 8000 residents, nearly thirty per cent of whom are of Vietnamese ethnicity. It was hard to believe that till they actually saw some people in the trademark conical Vietnamese hats. They navigate through the houseboats or makeshift houses that the inhabitants make from natural materials gathered from the surrounding forest area. The most incredible fact about this thriving village is that the entire community moves throughout the course of the year in response to the changes in water level of the lake, and hence this village in Chong Kneas is never in one fixed place! They drew close to a huge houseboat which had a sign board that said ‘floating market’ and had its shutters down. Hawkers came rowing to their boat to sell cool drinks, hot noodles and other knick-knacks while children skinny-dipped outside their homes. They even spotted a pet dog or two on board, and wondered how they survived this perpetual water-bound life. There is pretty much everything here one would need in a flourishing society, from grocery stores to the fish and crocodile farms. The animals are bred in an ingenious of pens created in the lake waters and there visitors can observe and feed them.
From the terrace, visitors could pretty much see the entire village in Chong Kneas spread out all around the boat, yet entire village spread out all around the boat, yet considerably cocooned together like a pearl in an oyster shell. With the last rays of the sun glinting over the waves in the distance, it was hard to believe that this expanse was merely a lake and not an ocean. Most of the families have been staying there because of the high cost of land, but it’s also a way of living here, passed down from generations.
Marvelling at the resilience of this Universe.
Thai Airways, Jet Airways, Qatar Airways, Air India, SpiceJet and Emirates are has flights to Thailand from all metropolitan cities in India and other countries.
Park Hyatt Siem Reap, Villa Romonea- Kep, Song Saa Island – SihanouKville and Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra are the hotels which resides near to the Chong Kneas.Use the search window to Book your accommodation.
Have a nice time in Chong Kneas