Saturday, 23 January 2016

~~~~ lake living

we drive to the remote floating village of 
Kompong Khleang
dusty red roads are replaced with fresh water
teetering homes on stilts
steep steps and high balconies
with dogs, bicycles, clothes and all
manner of things precariously hanging on  
and floating boat houses
there is a class divide
those with floating homes tend to be poorer
everyone is busy
setting nets to catch many of the 200 species of fish
that swim in the waters
nearly half the fish eaten in Cambodia
come from this lake
at 7,400 square miles
the Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake
in Asia
green islands of morning glory 
bob and float along the waters edge
tended by their owners
picking the best stems to cook
in Khmer dishes
fishing boats whizz past
young passengers wave
it's a timeless pocket of the planet
we drive onwards to Beng Mealea 
probably the most untouched temple of all
40km east of Angkor
the sandstone walls and carvings
have been left where they fell
twisted vines and tree roots 
carvings of Vishnu being borne by the bird god Garuda
and the Hindu story 
among the many tumbled stones
that we climb over and think about 
all those people who made these temples
the work, the devotion
Cambodia leaves you feeling very humble

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