hrf

Monsoon revival


WATERWORKS: Tourists look
at houses on stilts on the
Tonle Sap lake; and (below) a
floating restaurant on the lake
WATERWORKS: Tourists look at houses on stilts on the Tonle Sap lake; and (below) a floating restaurant on the lake

RAINS SIGNAL TOURISM SEASON IN FLOODPLAIN CAMBODIAN VILLAGE EACH monsoon, the soaring stilts that hold up the houses of Kampong Phluk prove their worth, as the dusty Cambodian village is transformed into a deep waterway. The village, a short ride from the ancient Angkor ruins, is on the floodplain of southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, Tonle Sap. The lake swells between the dry and wet seasons, expanding from an area of 2,500 square kilo­metres to several times that size at the height of the monsoon rains in September and October. When Kampong Phluk floods, residents also change their pat­tern of life, clambering up sheer wooden staircases to the dry of their homes and moving around by boat. After a lifetime of seasonal change in an otherwise sleepy vil­lage, 80-year-old Ta Nguon says he is excited to see the growing influx of tourists. “For the last few years, tourists have flocked to our village to see these houses, mangroves and the sunset over the Tonle Sap,” he said, sitting on a bamboo plat­form under his house during a hot recent afternoon. With the arrival of the rainy season, scores of boats wait to fer­ry tourists along a canal which cuts through the village to the main body of the Tonle Sap and its floating restaurants. They bring good money to the 1,000 families of Kampong Phluk, offsetting the decline in the fish catch from Tonle Sap lake, which is fed by the heavily dammed Me­kong River. The Tonle Sap provides suste­nance and survival for more than one million people, according to the Mekong River Commission. For American tourist Elizabeth Wilson, the rhythm of lake life and the adaptation of its villagers is a marvel. “It’s a great way to spend the afternoon or morning exploring, staying on the little boats, seeing the…

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