of Floating Villages
The floating villages of Phoum Kandal and Chong Kos are wonderfully colourful hamlets floating on the banks of the Tonle Sap. It is much less touristy than Kompong Luong; there's every chance you won't see any other tourists. Phoum Kandal (directly south-east of the boat dock) is an ethnic Vietnamese village, while Chong Kos (to the north) is Khmer. The communities are quite sizeable, complete with school, petrol station, mosque, veg shops, machine repair shops, satellite TV, and plenty of houses with a front terrace and hammock. We even saw a full glass fronted house, which is interesting when you think of the precarious logistics! Each buoyant structure is surrounded by narrow canals serving as the roads, washing machine, sink and toilet. To best experience the villages you need to hire a small wooden boat, complete with a well-balanced captain (we don't mean mentally). Your navigator stands at the back of the boat with a single oar to power and guides the boat with impressive accuracy through the floating maze. As you coast along, the kids too young to go to school or with other duties will give you a friendly enthusiastic wave. Even better is to pass a school at break-time, you certainly won't go unnoticed! Drifting through the villages by paddle boat with the sun shimmering off the water is an amazing way to spend your time. Just ask your tuk-tuk(remork) driver to drop you at Kompong Chhnang dock near the market. They may source a captain for you but if not, just walk down to the waterfront, along the plank gangways to the boats and your captain will come forward. A tuk-tuk to the port should be around US$2 one way and a moto US$1. Alternatively, you could hire one for a tour to include the pottery village for around US$8. $15 (up to three people), gets you around an hour and you will get to see one village, in 1.5 to 2 hours you can see both, $20 (recommended). Your captain is likely to be of Vietnamese decent and just like everywhere in Vietnam, you may have to haggle hard to get the best price. *NOTE* - You can do a tour from the tourist port (US$15 per hour) in a larger motorised boat, but you won't be able to go into the villages, which is missing the point!