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Kampong Luong
by Kara

"Fortunately, the cheap bus ticket I had bought the day before worked out and the minibus arrived at midday for the 30 minute journey to Krakor. Once off the bus in Krakor, there was some haggling over the cost of the motorbike taxi to Kompong Luong, some 7kms down a dusty side road, but a price of $2 was agreed. Once at the boat point, I was stuck with a fixed $5 price for the short boat journey to the homestay restaurant."

Kampong Luong

We got off the bus in forgettable Krakor, and got a ride on two motobikes and a boat the 2 to 7 km to Kompong Luong. The distance to the floating village depends on the seasonal and thus water level changes. Recommended by some trusty sources, we were curious to see how this whole concept of a fully functional Vietnamese community on Tonle Sap Lake works. Floating structures are arranged in imitation of a regular town, with allowance for boat-wide “street” canals.
The village is basically self-sufficient. In an hour trip, we saw that it has a church and a pagoda, a health center, a school, an ice-making factory, a gas station, even a crocodile farm. We discerned some floating gardens, pig pens, pecking chickens, dogs and cats. Vendors hawked their goods from floating shops, anything from clothes to vegetables and alcohol. Making use of the village location, fishermen supplemented the diet with fish and mussels from the lake.

We spent a night in a homestay. The home consisted of two small rooms, a kitchen and toilet area, and a small open living room, where it was common to set up a hammock. Unbelievably, the place had electricity, TV and even satellite. It did lack plumbing and water from the lake was used for many purposes. I wouldn't want to put a toe in that water, at least close to the village, but people bathed in it without any problems. We liked the opportunity to observe the village life undisturbed, flowing in a well-established rhythm, probably as it has for years. It's a simple existence, but people seemed to be content with it. We wished we had easier access to a boat to spend more time wandering around, as without transportation we felt marooned, as if on an island. Since not many foreigners visit the village, English is rare and we had some trouble with communication, especially as we tried to get back to land.

This delay shifted our plans for the day. We were lucky to get the last two seats on some random bus out of Krakor to Phnom Phen, Cambodia's capital. All the buses to Kampot departed by the time we arrived, so we were forced to spend the night. Making best of the situation, we found a cozy hotel and made advance reservations for when we come back to town on the 10th to meet up with our dear friend Sliwka back from the States.  On to Kampot, famous for its production of pepper.

Kompong Luong

This floating village is home to a broad Vietnamese community. There are around 50 catholic families. The floating church has two flouting buildings made of wood, the first one is used as a Church and the second one has three classrooms, one office and one library and a floating primary school has been built by the Diocese. The school is now managed by the government, with initial help from the Diocese.
Formation on hygiene, and different kinds of support to the sick and to poor families are also provided. The Church also organises trips to visit different areas of the lake with the students, during those trips they teach them about environment and fishing.