Day 116: Today we had a boat trip on the Tonle Sap Lake, where we could visit the floating markets, the floating village and the flooded forest village. It is dry season here now so the lake is very low and muddy brown. It is so wide that it looks like an ocean and we get a bit nervous after our boat gets bogged a few times, as there is water as far as you can see. But our guide Sin reassures us with the oar and shows us it is only 2ft deep. We motor up the lake for about an hour, past local boats of fishermen and families with all their belongings floating in boats. You’ll see a lot of the brown floating houses in my photo’s which are only temporary residences in the dry season and the village people will have to move and rebuild in the wet season. As we go further up the lake we come to a forest village with houses built on stilts for the wet season. It is here we embark on a walk through the village and meet the locals. I see another world beyond my scope. Living in the western world I’m oblivious to an extent that such poverty still exists. But here it is first hand. Kids with no clothes, sharing a shanty house with the extended family with sometimes up to 12 people sharing a bed! As we wander through the village we are greeted with smiles and hugs from the kids. They follow us as our guide shows us around. We buy pencils and books from the kids to help their schools, only to give the books and pencils to the flocking children further up the village. The heat of the sun on us as we walk is taxing and I couldn’t imagine living here like these locals do. I am so thankful to see this first hand and without judgement, feel like I am blessed beyond belief and should not have another complaint my whole life. These people were welcoming and happy despite their circumstances and want for nothing more than the bare necessities food, shelter, clothing, and health.
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