Our balloon ride, which had promised panoramic views of the Angkor site, was canceled the next morning due to impending rain. So we decided to make a short drive south to see Tonle Sap and one of its many floating villages. But before that, we received a blessing at a Buddhist monastery from a monk in Ray Bans. We knelt before him, and he chanted in an auctioneer-like cadence and threw water on us, as in buckets of water. It was hilarious.
Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, and is one of the most productive inland fisheries in the world, supporting over 3 million people, 2 million of whom actually live in floating villages around the lake. We saw one of these villages, and it was… a huge dose of the real world. To think that 2 million of Cambodia’s population of 14 million live in such conditions is deplorable. Luckily, privately-funded groups have steadily been making progress over the years, building canal and port facilities to help the fishing and tourism, and providing water purification systems for clean drinking water.
We left Tonle Sap behind with heavy hearts, and at about 11 am we pulled into the airport to begin the next leg of our adventure: Laos.