Kampong Phluk, or the “Harbour of the Tusks”, is a floating village on the famous Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia. It is certainly one of the main non-temple attractions in the area and is home to a whole community of villagers and locals who live in the small stilted buildings you will find scattered across the water. During the wet season, when the Tonle Sap is at high tide, these stilted huts look as though they are floating on the top of the water! I took some time out from my temple-trampling at Angkor to see Kampong Phluk, which is highly rated on TripAdvisor.
I went independently to Kampong Phluk with a tuktuk driver, who charged me around $30 for the round trip and a boat ride was included. He said he knew some “friends” who could get me a good deal, apparently. Of course, I know about these kind of practices in this part of the world, but as long as the boat was safe, then I thought $30 for the whole visit was acceptable, so I didn’t even bother to haggle.
I saw a similar kind of amazing floating village at Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei, but here in Siem Reap province it was even more impressive, as I was enchanted by the rural setting in which it was placed. A village on stilts over a freshwater lake may not be everyone’s cup of tea when travelling through south east Asia, but for me, I was up bright and early at my hotel in Siem Reap and it took me around 1 hour to arrive by tuktuk. Again, much like at Kampong Ayer in Bandar Seri Begawan, I felt a little like a voyeur as I perused local villager’s homes, all in the name of tourism. I wondered what they really thought of me as I watched them going about their daily life, such as washing dishes, putting clothes on a makeshift washing line, and preparing dinner.
I loved my little foray into the Cambodian countryside. It was a nice and welcome change from viewing the amazing Temples of Angkor. After the main 3 temples (Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Prohm), it is wise to have a day off and do something else to recuperate from the brutal heat and humidity. A trip to the waters of Kampong Phluk was, therefore, just what the doctor had ordered!
I would say, though, that you should be aware of that many of the villagers here see us as tourists as a way of getting money, and they will sometimes beg you quite persistently for a few dollars. On one such occasion, a small makeshift boat sailed up to us, at which point 2 small children began doing handstands and cartwheels, as if to appear as a circus act. I guess they expected us to through them a few coins, but nobody in the boat did. I guess it’s a moral thing; if you are happy to throw away a bit of cash then that’s up to you, but I was not sure where this money would go. I highly doubt it goes straight to the children’s parents.