Monday, July 06, 2009

Tonle Sap boats and lives

The boat with the red curtain is the kind you will be taking as an independent tourist. And the little boat beside it, where the little boy is, is the kind the villagers who live on the riverboats use to travel up and down the river.
More pictures of tourist boats--these we passed on the way.
The next photo shows the boats the villagers live on. They are tiny. There are no rooms; it is just one small space. I know of a family of 7 that used to live on one of these boats. Parents and their 5 children. There is no bathroom so everything is done in the river or riverbanks. Cooking by charcoal is done on the boat so the families have to be careful not to burn their wooden boat-home. You can see plastic sheets, which is how the families protect themselves from the rain. The boat men are almost always fishermen. Because it seems like such a hard life, I asked why people do this. It is because they cannot afford to rent a house on land. They also like living on the water because of the cool, fresh air. Besides, for many of them, this is the only life they know, inheriting skills and the boats from their parents. [They don't go to a boat-shop to buy the boats, in case the modern consumer is wondering. The people build the boats themselves.]
Some do live on the riverbank, in tiny huts like this one pictured.
The next three photos show the villagers travel up and down the river in the course of the day. They may go to the floating village to buy or sell things.

The women in the motorised boat (sampan) for instance, are bringing clothes to sell at the floating village. I took some photos which I will upload later to show the village. There are mechanic shops on boats, even little vegetable plots and pig pens, all on floating beds. Very interesting, although the poor pigs could not go anywhere or even move, in their tiny bamboo cages. No doubt they are reared for food. The last photo is of a family taking their mother to a doctor as she is sick (our boatman, who also lives on the river, told me). Everyone seems to know everyone in this little river village.

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