One refreshing option for tourists that have developed severe cases of “Temple Fatigue” — brought on from trying to see and photograph too many Angkor temple ruins in the span of a day or two — is to take a boat ride on the nearby Tonle Sap Lake. For many years, Chong Kneas was the favored spot for lake tours, but that village started to get way too touristy, and as crowded as Angkor Wat on some days, so other parts of the lake have become alternate tour destinations. One of those places is Kompong Pluk, a picturesque cluster of small villages located on the floodplain of the Tonle Sap, about 16 kilometers south of Siem Reap. The homes in Kompong Pluk are built on stilts — some wooden and some concrete — and instead of motorcycles and trucks parked outside you’ll find boats and canoes. As you would expect from such a water-based community, most of the villagers’ income comes from fishing.
I visited Kompong Pluk again this month with my friends Rong, Chiet, and the four Try brothers. We bought packages of chicken and rice at the market in Roulous on the way and ate those for lunch later on the lake. Some of the boat ride is spent on canals and tributaries that wind through mangrove forests. Once you are on the big lake — and it is so big it would qualify as a “Great Lake” back in the US —the boat usually stops for a break and passengers are allowed to swim if they want. Our boat driver toldus that sometimes he gets younger foreign tourists who want to swim au natural. But this guy admitted that he got flustered when naked foreign women asked him to take their photo! Oh well, just part of a hard day’s work!