Beyond Angkor Wat the Floating Village

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After we visted the temples of Angkor Wat our Tuk Tuk driver Roeun asked us if we would like to visit a floating village whose name escapes me at the moment, so we thought it would be a nice way to spend our last afternoon in Siem Reap, but as it turned out it was not to be, I shall explain, after a fairly long journey, well it certainly felt that way in a Tuk Tuk, we arrived at the Tonle Sap lake. We were directed to the ticket desk to purchase our tickets there were no prices on display we were just told it would be $20 each, for our own boat, I said we did not really require our own boat, and would be happy to get in the larger boat, he then told us that these boats were for tour groups and as there were a lot of coaches in the car park we went along with it, we got on the boat which was a pretty beat up affair and proceed to the floating village along a river what can only be described as liquid mud, we were treated to an English commentary of sorts which we could not really understand, I must tell you about one part of the commentary that did make us laugh was our guides pronunciation of floating village “Ploating Willage” which brought a smile to our faces every time he said it. Now the village itself is spread over a large area and many of the inhabitants are born there and die there quite remarkable really. It transpires that most of the villages of this type we born by people escaping Pol Pot’s evil regime. They have a floating school, hospital, petrol station, shops in fact every thing you would expect on dry land, all very interesting, but for me this is where the trip went sour, we were taken to a what can only be described as a floating warehouse where we were given a talk about how the local children need support for there education and one of the ways you can help to do this is to supply them with food, we were then almost pressured into buying a bag of rice $65 for a large bag or $45 or 12 small bottles of water for $5, now bare in mind we were buying bottles of the same water for the english equivelent of 8 pence or 12 cents in the shops the mark up was extortionate. Anyway getting back to hard sell, the talk was about the importance of educating the children and how many were orphaned in a Tsunami and the play was to tug on your heart strings, and to feel sorry for the children, we then was told that if we purchased some items we will then be able to deliver it to the local school, so we bought a small bag of rice and some water and set of to the school. We got off our boat and was shown into the classroom, we were presented by a lovely classroom full of smiling faces and our rice a water was presented to the class, this part of the trip was very nice indeed, but quite how the children felt by the no doubt constant interruptions in there education I will never know. We the told our next stop would be a crocodile farm, which we declined, as quite why some countries think westerners like this sort of thing is beyond me, “I suppose each to their own” and we were probably only being taken there to buy some crocodile skinned goods anyway. So it was back to the dock and our faithful Tuk Tuk driver. On the journey back along the river to the dock we all had time to reflect on our visit and I think we all agreed that if every tour boat which visited the village over the course of the week which is possibly in there hundreds bought a bag of rice or water there would be enough food to supply the whole floating village itself not just the school, also we all agreed that what on relection was a interesting visit was marred by the fact that the tourists who come here are in affect ripped off. For me I would have happily have bought the water and rice to help the entire village not just the school but would have preffered it if paid what the locals would have paid for the goods, oh well you live and learn so they say.
I must now mention our brilliant Tuk Tuk driver that we had for the duration of our stay in Siem Reap, Roeun Chamreon, he was a wonderful man, very helpful, spoke very good english, and if you are ever in Siem Reap give him a call tel: 012 920659, a top top man, and if you are wondering what is the cost of his service, it was $20 per day.
One last thing, I must apologise for the lack of photo’s on my blog, you see being a very keen photographer most of the images of our trip I have been taken with my digital camera, but I will post no doubt 100’s on my return on my flickr page
Next stop Phnom Penh.

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4 responses »

  1. Bob, you are not the “lone ranger” insofar as having a tour experience where you were either brought to a place to buy something or taken to a school to meet children, for the purpose of donating to their education. The former happened recently in Kuala Lumpur, where the tour guide brought us to a pewter factory (which was worthwhile), a leather shop, and a chocolate shop – these last two a waste of time. Regarding the latter visit to a school classroom, this occurred in the Bahamas while on a Princess Cruise. The same thoughts you had, I had – “How many frickin’ times do the children get their education interrupted each day; and, do all the donations go to their education or does most of it go to a money grubbing tour operator?”

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    • To right Steve, really felt we were taken advantage of, like I said in the post it marred what could have been a very informative trip. Also what I failed to mention in the post was that the tour guide and the boat pilot also wanted money, as they said they were volunteers. When I said what was the $60 for he said just for the boat. I’m sorry but I refused as I was pretty hacked off by this time.

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      • Yeah, my tolerance is quite low for people who take me for a fool or a mark to be taken advantage of. I don’t necessarily get visibly angry with them, since it’s usually bad form and I am in their country, but I will smile and chuckle, then walk away. You get this crap every day when you take a taxi (one reason I always check with the hotel to determine the cost of what it will cost me to travel to point a,,b, c, and d). For whatever reason, they think we are all rich and have a money tree growing in our back yard. Umm, yeah right.

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  2. Great that you found a good tuk-tuk driver. Trips on the lake are best with a group or on a private tour as you do feel sometimes that you have been taken for a ride at the lake. But the floating villages are definitely worth it and breaks up any trip to Siem Reap.

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