Cambodia // Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor //

Floats and stilts

The Tonle Sap villages are often generically described as the “floating villages”, even though in fact not all of them are. Genuine floating villages, such as Chong Khneas – or those at Pursat and Kompong Chnnang – are exactly that, with houses built on bamboo pontoons bobbing raftlike on the water, meaning that the entire village can be towed to a new location on the lake according to seasonally rising or falling water levels, and allowing its inhabitants convenient access to the best available supplies of fish. Conversely, other lakeside settlements, such as Kompong Phluk, are actually stilted villages, and float only in a metaphorical sense, their buildings being constructed on top of raised platforms perched above the water on high wooden stilts (like a supersized version of the traditional Khmer rural house). Needless to say, these villages occupy a fixed position, irrespective of prevailing water levels, and come the height of summer are generally left high and dry as the lake waters recede, stranding them amid lakeside mud.

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