Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

March 22, 2017
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Writer & Photographer: Rui Tan (Instagram @ryosuke_rui)
Translated to English by Eve

I remember sitting on a tuk-tuk for almost two hours, worn and weary, to arrive in this village.
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Perhaps it was neither a tourist season, nor a popular check-in tourist spot, the boats stayed ashore, patiently waiting for the right time to set sail again. Colourful paints, mud stains, rocky chairs, these were the special traits of these boats.

The river water was not crystal clear, after all not every river is perfect like that. Yet as a tourist, I was stoked! I really liked going to places where I could observe the livelihood of the locals, instead of places that are crowded and popular for check-ins.

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The boatman was calmly navigating the "Rainbow Boat". You, who aren't here to witness, could never imagine how the narrow turning points had to accommodate a few boats at the same time. The boatman's skill was put to test at every turn. The boats were kissing each other, mud-coloured water splattered and stained my clothes, my smile was immediately frozen! The boat ticket was USD $30 per person. Even if there is only one passenger, the boat operates too.

Sometimes the boat moved quickly, sometimes it's slow. The bumpy ride was a real test for my photography skills in shutter speed, exposure and ISO.

Forget it, set it in automatic mode, keep using the same lens! Anyway, I belong to the self-abandon type!

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

I was stoked again by the view.

These houses on the river were so special! Lean and tall pillars were supporting the worn houses.

The scenery at low tide is absolutely different from high tide. The locals said when the river rises, the water level is taller than me! Hey, nonsense! High tide of the river can be as tall as six meters, so houses have to be built taller than that. While clicking the shutter, I began to imagine human excretions dropping directly into the river... Oops.

一些画面挡住了我继续幻想下去!有旅客从窗户乱丢垃圾!哔哔哔,警察勒?! 看清楚才发现是一群旅客一齐的分撒着零食给当地的小孩,像财神爷般地大方。看得我下巴直接脱臼!小孩冒险着想去捡零食,有些零食随波逐流地飘到河中,小孩们也不罢休。我心都揪了。心想要是有人撒食物给我,我就先咬断他的手!
A few scenes interrupted my thoughts! A tourist threw rubbish out of the window! Beep... beep... where is the police?! Then I realized it was a group of tourists distributing snacks to the local children, generously like the God of Prosperity. My jaw dropped! The children were riskily fighting to catch the snacks. Some snacks flowed freely along the river but the children did not give up. My heart tightened, if somebody were to throw food to me in that careless manner, I would bite his hand!

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The boat passed by places that we could observe daily lives of locals. Just simple daily life. A life to work hard to support the family. A life to carry on despite not being in the best situation. A life without shopping, karaoke, cinema, and without iphone.

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

At one point, the boatman let us go ashore to visit the village. I'm not sure if every boat has the chance to do this, because I noticed we were the only tourists.

On the river bank, I could only describe this place as under-developed, and full of dust.

I walked, took pictures, and played with the local kids. Just a reminder to you, show the kids your photos. I kept forgetting and it was so rude.

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

A teacher's wage is only $300 USD per month. The children go to school in the morning, and then go to a tuition class in the afternoon to learn English. The class is free, so children might come and go as they wish. Of course please donate if you can, because education is very important.

Remarkably, the children in this village did not beg, they also wouldn't chase after and persuade you to buy scarf or postcards. The only thing they sell to a stranger is a smile, that's all.

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
At last, the boatman took us to the ocean. Floating in the middle of the ocean was a small eatery. I didn't pay attention because I was busy... looking for a safety jacket! It was scary! Then the boat drove slowly back to the river, but my mind was filled with the scene of crocodile in the river...

Floating Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Follow Rui on instagram @ryosuke_rui

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