Thursday, November 2, 2017

Konphong Phhluk - Siem Riep Provence

Kompong Phhluk is the flooded forest of Koompong Phhluk, alongside an otherworldly village built on stilts. Kampong Phhluk is a commune and village in Siem Reap Provence in northern-central Cambodia. It is a village built on stilts on the Tonle Sap. The name means "Harbor of the Tusks".

We awoke super early at the Angkor Holiday Hotel, to have breakfast and meet Hank and Sout for a tour of the village of Kampong Phhluk. About an hour from Siem Reap and down a long, long dirt road, you come to a large earthen pier, extending out into flood waters. The pier is about 10 feet above the water level. A very impressive mound of dirt! On our left, are hundreds of boats, waiting for tourists. On the right of the wide, earthen pier, food stands litter the edge-hoping for a hungry tourist.

For Cambodia, it’s a cool day, with a breeze drifting off of the water. We have come early to miss the busses that arrive around 10am and are lucky to be on the first boat of the day and its only riders. Sout has come with us to explain what we are seeing and to translate for the Captain. The boat is long and narrow, with a rudimentary engine and gears. 

The waterway is remarkably similar to Florida. Sout has a hard time accepting that Cambodia can look anything like Florida! The only thing missing are ospreys. The only other traffic out are locals racing into shore for market. We wave, they stare. 

The first building we locate is the police station. Then a school, a 2-story school on stilts.  The main town is incredible. All the homes are build on wooden stilts. Rickety stilts. Each home has 3 levels – boat level with a small landing, second an open level where other boats are dry docked, empty water containers stored, fishing nets and wood are stored. The highest level is the home, itself. All homes have porches with flowers, some are covered, some are not. The locals save and retrieve empty water bottles and create other floating storage areas. Women drift by in their skinny boats with grocery supplies – a floating 7/11 if you will. 

Arriving to the flooded forest, we disembark to catch a canoe thru the dense, shaded landscape. There are at least 30 canoes waiting on the days arrivals. As we are so early I’m sure more will be on the way. Our new paddler, glides us thru the wet landscape. It is delicious that suddenly we are removed from the loud humming of the first boats motor, and are able to hear the birds and families that surround us.

All of our merry little band relies how precious this moment is; floating silently thru the submerged jungle before the rest of the tourist arrive.

Arriving back to the pier, we find a cacophony of tourists, vendors, busses and boaters. It is not yet 10 am.

Last stop on our little tour is for pictures at the Pranaming Gator, on the outskirts of a country town, for  what I hope will be our Hanukkah card this year.

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