Travel Photography : Life Along The Floating Village, Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia

June 02, 2012  •  1 Comment

Cambodia is always one of my favorite places to photograph in Asia. If you ask me where I want to shoot tomorrow... lets go to Cambodia, as long as your time and budget permits, why not. It offers you a wide variety of choices to photograph from the nice and beautiful local people "Khmer" (for portrait and street photography), hundreds of historical temples and ruins around (for travel and architecture photography), for wildlife and nature lover they have Phnom Kulen National Park and Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary, and of course experience the life along the floating village in Tonle Sap Lake (for documentary and travel photography alike). Perhaps, I would say that this is heaven on earth if you’re travel enthusiast and your passion is photography.

As GD's assistant, I don't have much time to shoot and it's almost 24 hour job looking after the group and preparing everything for our day to day trips. I don't even have chance to edit whatever i've got during the workshop, but with the little time I have, I did managed to squeeze in this few shots on this post. 

Kampong PhlukARJ-CAMBODIA 10499

"The Life Along the Floating Village", Kampong Phluk, Tonle Sap Lake

Cambodia's Great Lake, the Boeung Tonle Sap (Tonle Sap Lake) is the most prominent feature on the map of Cambodia - a huge dumbbell-shaped body of water stretching across the northwest section of the country. In the wet season, the Tonle Sap Lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia, swelling to an expansive 12,000 km2. During the dry half of the year the Lake shrinks to as small as 2500 km2, draining into the Tonle Sap River, which meanders southeast, eventually merging with the Mekong River at the 'chaktomuk' confluence of rivers opposite Phnom Penh. But during the wet season a unique hydrologic phenomenon causes the river to reverse direction, filling the lake instead of draining it. 

Young Boat CaptainARJ-CAMBODIA 10213

"Young Boat Captain" checking passengers through the rear mirror. 

The engine of this phenomenon is the Mekong River, which becomes bloated with snow melt and runoff from the monsoon rains in the wet season. The swollen Mekong backs up into the Tonle Sap River at the point where the rivers meet at the 'chaktomuk' confluence, forcing the waters of the Tonle Sap River back up river into the lake. The inflow expands the surface area of lake more than five-fold, inundating the surrounding forested floodplain and supporting an extraordinarily rich and diverse eco-system. More than 100 varieties of waterbirds including several threatened and endangered species, over 200 species of fish, as well as crocodiles, turtles, macaques, otter and other wildlife inhabit the inundated mangrove forests. 

The Lake is also an important commercial resource, providing more than half of the fish consumed in Cambodia. In harmony with the specialized ecosystems, the human occupations at the edges of the lake is similarly distinctive - floating villages, towering stilted houses, huge fish traps, and an economy and way of life deeply intertwined with the lake, the fish, the wildlife and the cycles of rising and falling waters.

After TyphoonARJ-CAMBODIA 10355

"After Typhoon" at the Tonle Sap Lake.

Chong Khneas is the floating village at the edge of the lake closest and most accessible to Siem Reap. Chong Khneas, while interesting, is over-touristed and is not as picturesque and 'unspoiled' as floating villages further from Siem Reap. The boat trip usually includes two stops: one at a touristy floating 'fish and bird exhibition' with a souvenir and snack shop, and the other at the very highly recommended Gecko Environment Centre, which offers displays and information introducing the ecology and biodiversity of the lake area.

Chong KhneasARJ-CAMBODIA 10020

"Chong Kneas" village during sunrise.

Floating VillageARJ-CAMBODIA 10492

"Peek-A-boo", A boy in the bathing area Tonle Sap Lake, Chong Khneas

Kampong Phluk is a cluster of three villages of stilted houses built within the floodplain about 16 km southeast of Siem Reap. The villages are primarily Khmer and have about 3000 inhabitants between them. Flooded mangrove forest surrounds the area and is home to a variety of wildlife including crab-eating macaques. During the dry season when the lake is low, the buildings in the villages seem to soar atop their 6-meter stilts exposed by the lack of water.

At this time of year many of the villagers move out onto the lake and build temporary houses. In the wet season when water level rises, the villagers move back to their permanent houses on the floodplain, the stilts now hidden under the water. Kampong Phluk's economy is, as one might expect, based in fishing, primary in shrimp harvesting. Kampong Phluk sees comparatively few foreign visitors and offers a close look at the submerged forest and lakeside village life. 

Family, Floating VillageARJ-CAMBODIA 10491

"Father and Daughter" sight-seeing at the Floating Village, Kampong Phluk.

Resting at Kampong PhlukARJ-CAMBODIA 10490

"Good morning sunshine" an early morning scene at Kampong Phluk.

Young Lad at Floating VillageARJ-CAMBODIA 10225

"Priceless Smile" of a young lad at the Floating Village, Kampong Phluk.


"The Only Transportation" available in Kampong Phluk.

Kampong PhlukARJ-CAMBODIA 10221

"Flooded Freshwater Forest" at Kampong Phluk, Tonle Sap Lake

Kampong Tralach is the site of the former capital of Cambodia at Lovek. Lovek was Cambodia's main city after the Siamese King Borommaracha II sacked Angkor in 1431. The new capital was located on the banks of the Tonle Sap river, halfway between Phnom Penh and the lower end of the Tonle Sap lake. This new site was chosen to be more defensible than Angkor. The city became a wealthy trading centre and attracted various Europeans traders and missionairies through the 16th and 17th centuries. -- Text credit to Wikipedia

Young KhmerARJ-CAMBODIA 10329

"Tender Eyes" of young Khmer at the Old Pagoda, Kampong Tralach


"An Old Khmer" during dry season at the Tonle Sap Lake.

For more information and details on the upcoming Gunther Deichmann Photo Workshops, please visit our official website at GD Photo Workshops. These tours and packages are designed by photographers for photographers of all levels from basic to advanced photography. Please check back soon and I will post the whole itinerary for the GDPWS Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Thank you!


Arj, only wonderful!!! and sensitive
No comments posted.

January (2) February (1) March April (1) May June July August September October (1) November December (1)
January February (1) March April (3) May June July (1) August September (2) October November December (1)
January (3) February March April (1) May (1) June July (1) August September October November (1) December
January February (2) March April May June July August September October November (2) December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April (1) May June July August September October November December