Sunday, October 10, 2010

More Small Boats of Tonle Sap, Cambodia

I'm continuing to show photos by John Meader of boats of the Tonle Sap in Cambodia. (See the three previous posts for more on the same subject.) Today we'll look mostly at small motorized boats. The hulls appear to be virtually identical to the paddled vessels of the same size. As always, click any image to enlarge.

I like the decorated sternpost on this small powerboat.

While mom holds the baby, her young son steers the family powerboat with an oar over the stern.

Like most other female bow paddlers, this one half-sits, half squats on the foredeck as the boat approaches a floating store. 

It's common to see people wearing facemasks against the air pollution and generally noxious odors on this waterway that, unfortunately, is used as a sewer as well.

These little boats move out right smartly and seem to get at least partly up on plane.

Note the boat in the left background. The (automotive?) engine is mounted on the after deck, and it's swung 180 degrees from its operating position, so that the prop shaft extends over the hull. This is probably just to save space on the crowded waterway. When the boat will be put into use, the user will simply swivel the engine and prop shaft 180 degrees on its pivot so that the shaft extends over the stern. 

A non-motorized boat. Note the position of the paddle grip of the aft paddler. This appears very awkward to me as a North American canoeist, but as these people literally live on the water, I have to assume they know something I don't about efficient paddling. The bow-down trim is also something that I'd normally try to avoid.

A gam.
In spite of their lack of finish, these are very pretty boats when seen in profile.


  1. I know it's a slum, but what poetic and aesthetic beauty! Even the simple poverty appeals to me, but not the environmental degradation.
    Imagine replacing your car with a simple and beautiful planked boat.

  2. Thanks Doryman. I harbor the same romantic inclinations. But I also suspect that most of these people would trade their lots for our in a heartbeat and that, if we were constrained to live in their place, we would find it a severe punishment.

  3. There is a certain beauty in their lives. They didn't strike me as an unhappy people, just realistic and doing what they had to do. I know, having been there, that I would find it a very difficult place to live. There is no privacy anytime that I can see. It's living in small cramped quarters very close to others in small cramp quarters. The smells are intense, the noise is constant. There is no peace and quiet. The boats are beautiful and very functional. They are an ingenious people. I would love to have more time to explore the floating village from a smaller craft. I would love to paddle with a local. It is amazing how much of a barrier language can be at times, while at other times it seems almost irrelevant. All part of the enigma that is Cambodia.

  4. Reality always impinges on romanticism, but why must it be so? If you and I lived there, John it might be a very different place.
    As my wife says when asked about living in such a place "it depends on the availability and plenitude of wholesome food". The enigma of the world.

  5. Just received an email from someone in Norfolk, England, giving details of the construction of a reed bundle boat by a professional reed cutter, for housing thatch. They plan to make some more reed boats and I will put them in touch or post more info with their permission.

  6. Edwin - reed boats in England? By all means, send info. when available. Thanks.