Chong Kneas During our instance in the Angkor Temples, we decided to move one day to the floating town of Chong Kneas, with the aim of fleeing mass tourism reigning in Siem Reap and surroundings. This town lives underwater for almost the entire year. Part of it does not have a fixed place due to its buoyancy, so depending on the season, it can be moved from one place to another.
In Siem Reap we ride on Tuk tuk in the direction of where the small boats departed for Chong Kneas. This place has a mafia character, since they charge a revolutionary fee based on nationality to reach the floating people. Once the fee is paid, you are assigned a boat that can be shared with more people. We were lucky and it was only for us.
Mounted in the small boat, the first thing that caught my attention was the van engine Toyota with its own gearbox and steering wheel attached. Amazing what that boat was.
Boat with Toyota engine
The boat was launched through a narrow channel. We did not imagine that in a few kilometers the narrowness of the canal would become a wide plain completely covered by water. Little by little we began to see buildings, which by their construction it was clear that they had been carried out with the aim of preventing the flooding of the waters. They were like granaries, but instead of protecting food from rodents, people were protected from water here.
On the way to Chong Kneas
We arrived to Chong Kneas, any town of Cambodia if it wasn't because it has no roads but water on all sides. People must travel by canoe to leave home and be able to perform any task, from buying food to going to work.
Forget about looking for a cinema, a hardware store, or any western store. Here you will only find the most basic, yes, the Buddhist temple cannot be missing.
And as you can see, people are happy. In the following photograph we see how a child navigates in what looks like a large bowl, while his grandfather laughs at him. Behind them his dog, who completely ignores what it is to gallop through open lands.
The town is huge, one can get lost while navigating and hardly remember the way he came. Without directions, we could end up in any part of the town, which is not a problem because we would always find a corner worth photographing.
Then, we decided to stop to buy some food. In this class of villages, they are not very used to tourists making a stop, so if there is a child in sight, it will come running towards you with the aim of getting some candy.
Many of these houses do not have a fixed place. Depending on the time during the rainy season, you can move from one place to another, so you should talk to the local people to know the exact location of the town. However, many of them have settled in the place, tired of nomadic tradition.
On the outskirts of the town there is a series of forests completely covered by water. These forests are only flooded during the rainy season, so if you come in December you can take a walk through them walking. The inhabitants of the place, will offer you small canoes to be able to move inside, since the motor boat can get stuck with the roots of the trees.
Of course, be careful because getting lost is the order of the day. It is a maze, in which all its galleries are very similar and finding intelligent life in them is very complicated. The truth that I loved this experience, very similar to what we can find in the mangroves.
Forest near Chong Kneas
After the visit to the town, we decided to take a dip in the great lake Tonle Sap. It's so big, you can't see the other side of the shore. If they tell us that catches of more than 50 kilos are caught there, I would have thought twice.
When to go?
The best months are from December to January. From February the temperatures are unbearable until mid-April, just when the monsoon begins. The latter usually ends at the end of October and it is usually sunny during the morning and rain in the afternoon.
How to get?
There are many ways to arrive. Our case was taking a plane from Bangkok to Siem Reap. You can go by road but I do not recommend it. It takes about 12 hours in addition to the many problems that we can find at the border (Although apparently according to the comments this data has improved). What's more, the bus leaves you there, so there would be no choice but to haggle the taxi drivers to take us to Siem Reap,complicated thing, since they know that there is no other method of transport and take advantage of it. Here the option is to share it with another traveler.
Once in Siem Reap, talk to the owner of a Tuk Tuk to be taken to the place where the boats leave for Chong Kneas. If you use the same Tuk Tuk that you will use to move around the temples of Angkor, it will be cheaper.
What to wear
A swimsuit, waterproof in case it rains, a cap and sunscreen. Eye with the camera, you can easily fall into the water.
Where to sleep?
There is a wide variety of accommodations in Siem Reap. From the cheapest to the most ostentatious. If you are looking for something quiet, the best option is to find a Hostel on the other side of the river. Many of them have a small pool to cool off. Our choice was the Golden Banana, out of the hustle and bustle with a refreshing pool, a success.
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Miguel Blanquer@mablanquer @viajaporlibre