It’s been a month packed with activities in Cambodia. After a couple of weeks settling in at our center in Siem Reap, we were off on many field trips, visiting Angkor Wat, community forests, Phnom Kulen National Park, and our first overnight trip: Tonle Sap Lake.
Imagine a life constantly on water. The floor you stand on is floating on the lake. Instead of getting in a car, you get in a boat. It sounds fascinating, but upon looking more closely, you see how limiting such a lifestyle can be. We learned about environmental issues on the lake including pollution, overfishing, and illegal gill nets, but while staying there I became more drawn to the social aspect of life on the lake.
After settling into our homestay, we interviewed our host family to learn more about life in the floating villages. The family is completely dependent on fishing and supplements income with crocodile farming and ecotourism. But fishing is central. The father has been fishing his whole life. He would leave the lake, but fishing is all he knows and it doesn’t provide enough money to move to Siem Reap anyway.
Cambodia has a saying, “Where there’s water, there’s fish.” But as population increases, especially on the lake, the number of fish decreases. As dams are built, the number of fish will decrease. But, this man must keep fishing for he knows nothing else.