We had enough of temple ruins and wanted to see other places in Siem Reap. Ergo, a visit to a floating village close to the city.
We rode an airconditioned van driven by our guide. It took around 45 minutes to drive to the boat docks. There were enough boats – simple, rusty, noisy ones.
Our boat passed through households, a school, a church, a clinic, markets – all of which floating. Some floating houses were bluer than the skies, they were nice. I wondered how it felt to have such a lifestyle. A crude version of Amsterdam.
There was one stop at a three-storey boat of a market,which had a good view of the village from the top floor.
There was a catfish farm and a crocodile farm at this stop, too. We bought some food for the catfish and fed them. Later, we also bought some catfish to feed the crocodiles. The fish was lowered with a pole and an alert croc snapped it into its mouth.
I have to admit that these were sad-looking crocodiles. Or do I imagine them sad because of their poor cage? The whole milieau was down-and-out. And there were kids boating around in basins.
I saw a skinny sunburned kid with a wrinkled-looking snake around her neck – she asked for money.
My heart broke. I felt ashamed for my existence. That I have it so well, while this kid doesn’t.
I don’t know if I did the wrong thing by not giving money directly. I choose to send money to legitimate organisations.
This is one of those tourist places that make me wonder – is it morally correct for me, as a tourist, to visit? It makes me sad for the kids, the catfish and the crocodiles. But if tourists stop visiting, then it will also affect the people’s livelihood. These people are very poor already, and abandoning their floating village feels like leaving them even more impoverished.