Life In Tonle Sap

The next morning we went to Tonle Sap. The river Tonle Sap, flows towards the Mekong delta for 6 months of the year. The other six months, it flows from delta to the lake. This period is Monsoon rains period. With the rain, delta fills up and has to flow to the opposite side.

We went from Tonle Sap river to Tonle Sap lake with motorboats. The houses next to the river are built on wooden poles and bound to the land with wooden bridges. The reason they are up high on the poles is the tides, high and low. Though, it is hard to call them houses, they are more like shacks. Made out of wood and tin. In very bad condition. The population is really poor. People around this area earn 2.5-3 dollar a day per family.

We saw the floating houses when we came closer to the lake. They float on the water just like a raft. They are also worned out but in better condition than the ones on the poles.

Every building is on the water here. Houses, dispensary, post office, church, market… It is a must see. Poeple wash their clothes, vegetables and dishes in this muddy water. They also use it for bladder. Some of them even use it as drinking water. Thats why dysentery is the most common disease here.

Kids stroll around the river like they are walking on the land. How? They use a laundry basket, sit in it like a boat, and row it with a piece of wood. Some kids around the ages 4-7, came close to our boat with theirs, which was small, narrow and long, jumped on to our boat while it was still moving, and tried to sell us the cokes and bananas for 1 dollars. The risk those little kids take for earning money, tore me up inside. Their little bodies, soaked clothes, shaking all the way when they make it up to the boat. But always proud, and head up high. Never begging. Asking “Would you like to buy Coca-Cola? Would you like bananas?” We bought them all. Than another boat came, than another. The same thing. The same items sold. Just different kids. How many we could buy?

Our guide told us, after the WW2, there was a junior high here, and it was demolished together with all the schools and sanctuaries when the Red Khmers came here. But today we can see elementary schools on the river. Of course they have to use one classroom for many classes, but it is better than having none.

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NURHAN YILMAZ

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NURHAN YILMAZ

1951 İstanbul doğumluyum. Yıl içinde dönüşümlü olarak Sinop, Bodrum ve İstanbul’da yaşamaktayım.Küçük yaşlarda babamın mesleği gereği, Türkiye’nin pek çok farklı şehirlerinde yaşadım.