Siem Reap Day 4: The Stilt Village
We got to sleep in a little this morning. Our day began with a 1 hour tuk-tuk ride to Rolous where we explored a local market with our guide Kettya. She explained what all of the items for sale were. There were tons of fruits and veggies and fish. It was very similar to many of the markets I have seen in Thailand (more about that here). Another short tuk-tuk ride away and we transferred onto a boat to explore a floating village or stilt village.
The Ingenuity of The Boat
I will explain more about the village in a second but the boat ride out to the village was awesome and definitely needs to be mentioned. One of my absolute favorite things about visiting developing countries is seeing the ingenuity of the people. There are so many incredible things created or put to use that would normally be discarded in America as broken or junk. This boat was a great example of this concept. The boat captain was a young boy who couldn’t have been more than 15 years old; he was the one steering the boat at the front. The other boy on the boat was at the back and was running the motor; he was maybe 18 years old.
My mom, Kettya and I were the only guests on the boat, which could have held 20 people total. We were allowed to roam around freely so we could see everything going on with the boat. The ride was about 45 minutes one way and during that time I noticed several long ropes running the length of the boat on either side near the floor. Then I looked closer at the steering wheel itself, which was literally the steering console of a car that had been ripped out, exposed wiring and all. Underneath the wheel was connected to ropes strategically tied all around. These ropes led all the way to the back of the boat and were attached to the rudder to steer. It was ingenious and I couldn’t believe these two young boys had thought up such an awesome way to fix their boat in order to continue working.
The Stilt Village
The boat took us on a river that ran through the village. We saw houses on stilts on either side of the boat. I was not expecting the stilts to be so high! They probably elevated the houses about 3 stories into the air. The stilts were not anything fancy; they looked a lot like tree branches and trunks tied together with rope. The homes were made of corrugated metal and some were even multiple stories connected by ladders. The stilts were exposed because we were visiting during the dry season. During the wet season, the stilts are completely submerged under water. The water rises nearly 3 stories high in the wet season! A forest along one of the edges of town gets completely submerged under water.
Lunch In A Stilt House
We traveled along the river until we reached Tonle Sap Lake and then we turned around and went back. On the way, we stopped at a local family’s home to have a homemade lunch. Our hosts were an older man and wife and their niece who was living with them since their sons were in school or working in Siem Reap. We had snakehead fish, mango salad and fresh vegetables. It was a delicious meal and we also were able to look around their stilt house. They were very gracious and friendly and I always enjoy getting to see how the people of a country actually live.
From left to right: Our host family that made us lunch, the kitchen in the stilt house, the view of the village from our hosts home.
Street Food With The Locals
We took the boat back to the dock and then had a long, dusty tuk-tuk ride back in to town. Kettya pointed us in the direction of “60 meter road” for dinner since we requested street food. This spot was aimed more towards locals than tourists and was close to our hotel. Exactly what we were looking for! We wandered up the street where there were tons of clothing and shoe stalls as well as food and amusement park rides. We settled on some lettuce wrap type things for dinner. By watching the other people around us we figured out how to eat them correctly. You stacked a lettuce or cabbage leaf with noodles, fish paste cooked in a banana leaf and vegetables. It must have looked ridiculous, us trying to figure out the dipping sauce, but it was tasty!
A boat on Tonle Sap Lake
The stilt village was a very unique experience that we were both looking forward to. It was everything we had anticipated and more. The size of the village and the stilts were very surprising. The people we met today were so friendly and welcoming and most of all it was a nice change of pace from seeing temples and an overall great day!