One of the absolute highlights of our visit to Cambodia was a trip on motorized canoe to the floating village of Kampong Phluk, located on Tonle Sap, the largest lake in South East Asia
Our tourist guide decided to make sure that we visit this site for sure and kept it a surprise. Little did we know what was in store for us. There was a point of time at which we were wondering why are we sitting in the middle of just water and nothing to look forward to when suddenly you first see a large floating barge and the guide says this is where the villagers parties. As the canal gradually widened, a pagoda on stilts shrouded by wild grass came into view. Soon enough, rows of houses on stilts, and then, an entire water civilization emerged in the middle of nowhere: Kampong Phluk - a floating village, hidden to the outside world.



Pagora

Kampong Phluk is a cluster of three villages of stilted houses built within the floodplain of the Tonle Sap lake, about 16 km southeast of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Flooded mangrove forest surrounds the area and is home to a variety of wildlife including crab-eating macaques.






The houses of Kampong Phluk are built on top of wooden poles and stilts between six and eight meters high and tower over the boats moored along the river, which snakes through the village before heading out into the Tonle Sap lake. But this quirky water body doesn't retain its size throughout the year. In the dry season, the lake drains out back in the river and shrinks. But in the wet season, fed by the river and the rains it swells, nearly five times in size, to a whopping approximate 12,000 square kilometers informed our Khmer Guide. In the swell, the silt gets deposited on the floodlands. 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. The most important profession of the people of Kompong Phluk is fishing based in shrimp harvesting. During the dry season the villagers become farmers and it is mainly rice fields.

All the houses are well equipped with basic household appliances like TV, audio system etc. Even though electricity is not feasible, the village is powered by portable car batteries. We could see the boats with batteries crossing the river to get charge on the charging station on the dry land.
Police Station in middle of the water
A sad part of this beauty is that the villagers face the threat of waterborne diseases and it is the children who suffer the most. Dengue is a killer disease here. That is why maybe the villagers have built a large Buddhist temple also in the village which we visited and there was a different kind of serenity and calmness there.

Buddhist Temple

 

We had to get the ticket from a rustic shed on the high water market in village and take a canoe out to the village. The journey to the rustic shed was also interesting. The car driven by our tour guide was parked before the marshy lands begin. We then had to get into open air cart mounted on top of a weird combination which looked like a cross between a scooter and truck.
It was interesting to see diesel being sold in empty bottles which was primarily to run these machines.
Our return journey from the village was breathtaking. There was a very thin line between the water and the sky.





For me this is this the best season of the year. I love the festive mood, X-mas decoration everywhere. Office get together, games and gifts by Santa Claus.  It is relaxing and  enjoying. The weather is cool and in Mumbai it is not as cold as North. The malls are beautifully decoarated.  You will notice the traffic is less compared to normal days. Reason : Most of the people avail their  leaves and go out of the city.  

Sadly, this season is coming to end and every one starts thinking how the year went by. For me it was both mix of  sky rocketing UP's and rock bottom DOWN. Looking forward for exciting 2012...

Wishing fellow bloggers  Merry Christmas!!! May Santa bring lots of joy and happiness in your life....










Richness of Indian culture is not seen only in India but outside India too. Not many know that in Cambodia, Siem Reap city is famous for its Hindu and Buddhist temples.
We normally like to go for offbeat place for our vacations. This time we went to Ho Chi Minh City in Veitnam & Siem Reap in Cambodia.
In this post I will write about Siem Reap in Cambodia.
Siem Reap is a beautiful and charming city. It is land of temples and most people come here to check out the temple of Ankor Wat. Angkor Wat is one of the most beautiful and fascinating places on the planet. Made by the Khmer kings in a process that lasts almost 4 centuries, this magnificent area has been abandoned and hidden by the forest. Re-discovered by French about 150 years ago, Angkor Wat is ready to become one of the most visited archaeological and artistic sites on the planet.
The local language of Cambodia is Khemer. The local currency is Riel. US dollars are as commonly used as Riel.
It is difficult to describe the temples of Ankor Archeological Park in one post. The remaining will be continued in next post. Till then good bye...
There are more than 50 temples in Ankor Archaeological Park, but we could visit only 3 temples in one day. I will write about Ankor Wat Temple in this post.
Ankor Wat
One must possess an admission pass (an 'Angkor Pass') to visit the temples and sites in the Angkor Archaeological Park. Passes may be purchased at the main entrance on the road to Angkor Wat. Passes are sold in one-day ($20), three-day ($40) and seven-day ($60) blocks that must be used on consecutive days. Photo taken on the spot with free of charge is required at time of purchase.
Ankor Wat is visually, architecturally and artistically breathtaking. Ankor Wat is the centerpiece of any visit to the temples of Ankor. Suryavarman II constructed Ankor Wat, Hindu Temple in the form of massive ‘temple mountain’ dedicated to Hindu God “Vishnu”
Lord Vishnu carved from one sandstone block

Ankor Wat is surrounded by a moat. Walking across the causeway over the moat towards the temple is quite an experience. The temple is 1 km square and consists of three levels surrounded by central tower. At the outer wall, there is 3 meter statue of Vishnu carved from one sandstone block.


 
The walls of the temples are covered with carvings & bas-reliefs depicting stories and characters from Hindu mythology. Bas-reliefs include the epic of Ramayana, the classic “Churning of the Ocean milk”.
Bas releif depicting Ramayana
Bas releif depicting Ramayana


Bas releif depicting Ramayana


Bas Releif - Ravana

Bas Releif - Ram & Laxman








The visual impact of Ankor Wat is awesome. As one pass through the outer gate, its size and architecture make it appear two dimensional.  After one cross through the gate and approach the temple along the walkway it slowly gains depth and complexity.



The temple interior is not as densely carved as the first level exterior, but still sports hundreds of fine carvings of apsaras and scenes from Hindu mythology. At the upper most of the temple the central tower on the third level houses Buddha images, each facing a different cardinal point. Some say it is good luck to pay homage to all Buddha images before departing Ankor.


 Lord Buddha in sleeping position












Nearly 1000 distinctively rendered apsara carvings adorn the walls throughout the temple in dancing mode. The linga, the naga multi-headed serpent, the garuda are seen in the temple.

Apsaras















Locals dressed up in traditional apsaras

It is difficult to describe the temples of Ankor Archeological Park in one post. The remaining will be continued in next post. Till then good bye...