Friday, January 19, 2007


The Tonle Sap lake, the largest in South East Asia, is an incredible lake that provides fish protein and irrigation waters for close to 50% of the population of Cambodia. (Source: The Lonely Planet)

Fishing is therefore a major activity. The Tonle Sap swells in size during the rainy season of May to October when the level of Mekong river rises. The flooded forest becomes a natural spawning ground for the fishes. Around October, as the Mekong level starts to fall, the Tonle Sap reverses its flow, draining its water back to the Mekong, bringing along its abundant fish supply. Naturally, it is during this period (Novermber - January) that fishing activities are at its peak. I was therefore, fortunate to be part of this annual excitement.

Kampong Kilomet 9 sits by Tonle Sap's river bank, a Cham Muslim community. The Cambodian name for this Kampong is CHRANGCHAMREH.

Some families lived on the river, literally. Others on rafts on the Tonle Sap bank. Most opted for solid ground, a few metres away from the river bank. They all add to the chaotic vibrance of houses on stilts, on the river edges and on the river.




Breakfast stalls serve the fisherfolks the local delicacies. Good harvest can equal good makan, however one chose to eat - squatting seems a favorite choice, on benches provided for the bottoms!

Activities start very early, at the break of dawn. After all, bountiful harvest do not come often.

It's reported that during this period, an individual fisherman can bring in between 100kg - 200 kg of catch daily. That's a whopping figure, and that harvest comes from the river, not the sea.

The catch is processed by the river bank itself. The heads are cut off by a machine, the fish are washed and sifted into a waiting basket. From there, a group of ladies by the river bank mix salt to the fish. The salted fish are meant for buyers who lived in the interior parts of Cambodia, sparingly surviving on this salted protein for a year until the next harvest.
You can see smiles all around amidst laughter as they go about carrying out their respective tasks
Fishes are also dried for consumption. It's a local delicacy.

Horses are used to transport the fish. These horse carts are MPV's of Cambodia. In fact, any moving object is an MPV in Cambodia!
For the village folks of Kilomet 9, it's another good day with a good harvest. They of-course wish for the good days to continue forever.

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