We left Banteay Srei for the fishing village of Kampong Kleang on the northeast shore of Tonle Sap Lake. Sky, our guide, explained that there are really two types of dwellings in the village, "floated" and "floating". Floated structures are erected atop towering bamboo poles and look like something from a science fiction movie set. In rainy season, the river rises to the base of the dwellings, hence the term "floated". By contrast, floating dwellings actually float year-round on Tonle Sap, clustered together and anchored to bamboo poles wedged into the muddy bottom of the lake. There is even a floating grocery store of sorts stocked with staple goods.
A fish trap
The river is everything to the people who live here and fishing is their way of life. The poverty is obvious--no running water, no sanitation system--and tourism is just beginning to poke its way into the community. I expect that its otherworldly charm will soon be discovered and they'll plop open a restaurant, a bar, and a souvenir shop hawking T-shirts and trinkets. For now, though, a journey to Kampong Kleang feels like a journey into the past and a totally different way of life.