Tonle Sap is a vast freshwater lake, performing duties as a reservoir, flood relief system, source of food, surface to live on and communication route, even those who live nowhere near it depend on its contents to feed their families. Traveling across it, water expands as far as the eye can see as fisherman wait in anticipation, boats chug past ferrying passengers, restaurants float serving food to passing locals and tourists.
Floating Village On Tonle Sap
Cambodia’s Great Lake, the Boeung Tonle Sap (Tonle Sap Lake) is the most prominent feature on the map of Cambodia (i.e. a huge dumbbell-shaped body of water stretching across the northwest section of the country). Not only does Tonle Sap Lake represent the most important source of fish and other water resource for Cambodian, it is also the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. It is renowned for its two unusual characteristics: the direction of its flow changes twice a year and the size of the lake expands and shrinks dramatically with the seasons. In the dry season from November to May, the lake drains out into the Mekong River in Phnom Penh whilst the flow reverses in rainy season, resulting in the lake’s area increasing to 16,000 sq km and its depth to up to nine metres, and flooding nearby fields and forests in the process. Another interesting property of the lake is the lifestyle of the local floating villages. Wooden houses are built on high stilts so as to keep the houses out of the water at the height of the water level and these houses are left looking like awkward creatures with tall legs when the water level gets low. The livelihood of the local people also depends largely on the resources from the lake. With a trip to the Tonle Sap, tourists shall enjoy both the opportunity to witness the wonder of nature and to experience Cambodian floating villages complete with houses, schools, health centres, gas stations, restaurants, markets and even a church.