Hi, We're Larry and Kaye Richardson from N Little Rock, Arkansas.  Mid-sixty retired couple married over 40 years trying to balance caring for an elderly parent, playing with grandchildren who live far away, and living a fun-filled-adventure-packed-still-crazy-about-each-other-life around the world. That's our 30 second elevator speech! You can stop here if you wish! For the long version, keep reading!

Hi, We're Larry and Kaye Richardson from N Little Rock, Arkansas. 
Mid-sixty retired couple married over 40 years trying to balance caring for an elderly parent, playing with grandchildren who live far away, and living a fun-filled-adventure-packed-still-crazy-about-each-other-life around the world. That's our 30 second elevator speech! You can stop here if you wish! For the long version, keep reading!

The Floating Village of Kampong Khleang

The Floating Village of Kampong Khleang

About an hour southeast of Siem Reap is the village of Kampong Khleang. We arrived in February during the dry season while Cambodia's largest fresh water lake (Tonle Sap)  is at its lowest level. The lake swells from 3000 sq Km in the dry season to 12000 sq Km in the wet season. Our guide, Chamnan, drove us there and arranged for a local low water capable boat to take us down the river to the lake for a sunset tour of the floating village. The houses along the road to the boat are built on poles, many 25 feet high, high enough to keep the floor level of the house at least 3 feet above water during the wet season. The road itself is several feet under water during the wet season requiring travel for the 20,000 residents to be by boat. What happens to scooters and equipment, and how about the livestock? Everything has to be moved up to the floor level of the house, even the cattle and other livestock.

The people live simply, drying fish for use later, growing vegetables and doing whatever is  necessary to survive their fairly isolated lives. They are happy, very friendly people. The children followed along with us as we rode and then walked through the village smiling, waving to us, and saying "good bye, good bye!" as we made our way to the boat dock and our young boat driver. The boat ride on the river toward the lake took us past many other houses on stilts and then out to farm land with only a few houses spaced good distances apart. These houses are used only by the farmers and the workers, Chamnan said. When the work is done, they return to their homes in the village.

When we reached the lake we could see in the distance what looked like a village, a group of houses, but this time instead of being built on poles, they are floating, sometimes on pontoon like barrels, sometimes as a large boat or several smaller boats connected together. They are powered by generators and by solar power. Some even have satellite dishes!  All the day to day activities such as bathing in the lake, laundry, even growing a garden happen on board these house boats. Some of the houses act as trading posts, there is even a school building, but no medical or pharmacy services, and no post office. As the lake gets lower in the dry season (January and February are the driest months), the houses are moved further out into the middle of the lake where they are now, They are moved about by outboard motors and by using long poles. The rains begin in May, and August and September receive the most rain. During that time, the houses will be moved closer to shore, Chamnan indicated a good distance away to where we could see a mangrove forest. He said we should return in November to see the lake at its highest stage and a totally different world here in the village.

Houses line both sides of the road beside the river on the way to the lake. Steep steps or sometimes just a ladder lead up to the houses. We marveled at the small children nimbly climbing up and down and wondered about how the elderly or infirm manage!

Houses line both sides of the road beside the river on the way to the lake. Steep steps or sometimes just a ladder lead up to the houses. We marveled at the small children nimbly climbing up and down and wondered about how the elderly or infirm manage!

Chamnan let us out of the car to walk in the village for a bit. We knew what these were before we got to them by their smell! Rows and rows of small fish drying in the sun! They dry them and then smoke them. We saw several tented areas with smoke coming out where they were smoking the fish. I hope they taste better than these smelled!

Chamnan let us out of the car to walk in the village for a bit. We knew what these were before we got to them by their smell! Rows and rows of small fish drying in the sun! They dry them and then smoke them. We saw several tented areas with smoke coming out where they were smoking the fish. I hope they taste better than these smelled!

We were surprised by the size of some of the houses. This one is one of the larger ones. 

We were surprised by the size of some of the houses. This one is one of the larger ones. 

This young man appeared to be having a problem with his fishing net and was working on it. I asked Chamnan if there are snakes in the water. He said there are, but nobody worries about them. They just catch them for supper!

This young man appeared to be having a problem with his fishing net and was working on it. I asked Chamnan if there are snakes in the water. He said there are, but nobody worries about them. They just catch them for supper!

See the pots floating there? That's someone's vegetable garden!

See the pots floating there? That's someone's vegetable garden!

This is the school for the floating village. Chamnan estimated that about 60 children attend here. All grade levels. One teacher. There's no "bus" or boat that picks the kids up and takes them home. The water level is so low that they are able to tie the school to the sticks on the left to hold it in place for now.

This is the school for the floating village. Chamnan estimated that about 60 children attend here. All grade levels. One teacher. There's no "bus" or boat that picks the kids up and takes them home. The water level is so low that they are able to tie the school to the sticks on the left to hold it in place for now.

We especially liked this house with it's pot of flowers that added much needed beauty to the space. As in some other places we've seen, many of the people here hang their wet laundry on hangers to dry in the sun on the side of their houses. We didn't get a picture of it, but some houses don't have a deck or porch on which to stand to hang their laundry, so in that case, they must get in the family's boat and maneuver it beside the house, go underneath the line, stand in the boat, and hang up the laundry! Kind of changes how we view laundry day!

We especially liked this house with it's pot of flowers that added much needed beauty to the space. As in some other places we've seen, many of the people here hang their wet laundry on hangers to dry in the sun on the side of their houses. We didn't get a picture of it, but some houses don't have a deck or porch on which to stand to hang their laundry, so in that case, they must get in the family's boat and maneuver it beside the house, go underneath the line, stand in the boat, and hang up the laundry! Kind of changes how we view laundry day!

Children here learn to pilot a boat quite young. Our boat driver, who is 18 years old and very much an expert boatman, said he grew up here and learned to paddle a boat on his own before he was 6 years old.

Children here learn to pilot a boat quite young. Our boat driver, who is 18 years old and very much an expert boatman, said he grew up here and learned to paddle a boat on his own before he was 6 years old.

The sun was setting and it was time for us to head back up river. On the way we saw fishermen and women hauling in the day's catch. We also saw boatloadsl of large white sacks full of snails that were taken from the lake that day. The snails will be washed and seasoned and left on carts in the sun to "cook" and sold on the streets of Siem Reap and nearby villages as lunch. I asked Chamnan if he eats them. He does, but warned us not to because they would make us sick. Seeing the muddy water and knowing that human waste goes directly into the lake here, I don't think we'd be tempted to try the snails anyway.

The sun was setting and it was time for us to head back up river. On the way we saw fishermen and women hauling in the day's catch. We also saw boatloadsl of large white sacks full of snails that were taken from the lake that day. The snails will be washed and seasoned and left on carts in the sun to "cook" and sold on the streets of Siem Reap and nearby villages as lunch. I asked Chamnan if he eats them. He does, but warned us not to because they would make us sick. Seeing the muddy water and knowing that human waste goes directly into the lake here, I don't think we'd be tempted to try the snails anyway.

Back up river we saw people busy with end of day activities like bringing in fish for dinner and bathing. A girl was washing her hair in the river. The river water is used to bathe, wash clothes, and dishes. Those who can afford it buy bottled water to drink. Those who can't afford bottled water use alum to clean the water and some have a filtration system of some sort.

Back up river we saw people busy with end of day activities like bringing in fish for dinner and bathing. A girl was washing her hair in the river. The river water is used to bathe, wash clothes, and dishes. Those who can afford it buy bottled water to drink. Those who can't afford bottled water use alum to clean the water and some have a filtration system of some sort.

Unrelated to the floating village, but on the way to Kampong Khkeung, we passed many large tarps spread out at the side of the road and partially on the road itself that were covered with rice spread out to dry. Most of the tarps are blue and this was the only red one we saw. As you can tell, the road here is gravel. so as cars go by lots of dust fills the air and settles on the rice. Chickens and other birds walk through and peck at it. Dogs and, I assume, other animals walk through it. I asked Chamnan about it. He said they don't worry about the dirt. After it's dry they bag it and sell it. We've eaten a lot of rice here! I hope it goes through a terrific cleaning process before it makes it to the kitchens!

Unrelated to the floating village, but on the way to Kampong Khkeung, we passed many large tarps spread out at the side of the road and partially on the road itself that were covered with rice spread out to dry. Most of the tarps are blue and this was the only red one we saw. As you can tell, the road here is gravel. so as cars go by lots of dust fills the air and settles on the rice. Chickens and other birds walk through and peck at it. Dogs and, I assume, other animals walk through it. I asked Chamnan about it. He said they don't worry about the dirt. After it's dry they bag it and sell it. We've eaten a lot of rice here! I hope it goes through a terrific cleaning process before it makes it to the kitchens!

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Ta Prohm aka Lara Croft Tomb Raider

Ta Prohm aka Lara Croft Tomb Raider