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Photographer's Note

The Tonle Sap Lake with its many floating villages is an experience one must not miss, despite the state of poverty it advertises. It is a mixed community of Khmers and Vietnamese who flocked here to exploit the fishing in the early 1980s. These villages are amphibious. From some time in May to January or so, they float, tethered to the lake bottom but unattached to the mainland. Gardens, pigsties, chicken coops, schools, petrol stations, clinics, restaurants, all float upon the lake, serving the population and eliminating the need to go ashore except to exchange goods with the mainland markets It is here that many of the fractures in Cambodian society are most visible. Most of the lake villages are a mix of the Islamic Chams, Vietnamese, and Cambodians.
Indistinguishable to many visitors, the villages which are mixed are divided into very clear sections, and there is astonishingly little interaction even among neighbors of differing community. Fishing is responsible for the livelihood of most of these people, and each blame the others when the catch decreases. The only unifying characteristic of these groups is their shared poverty which can be seen everywhere. Each tourist boat is flocked by these little kids expecting alms of any kind. Many of them are physically handicapped, their legs or hands blown up by mines. The two kids you see here are too young to float around by themselves so they are being brandished by their mother to catch the sympathy of the tourists.

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Additional Photos by Sabyasachi Talukdar (sabyasachi1212) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3140 W: 281 N: 5210] (19779)
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