Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More Boats of the Tonle Sap, Cambodia

Yesterday's post introduced paddlecraft of Chon Khneas, the floating villages on the Tonle Sap in Cambodia. I'll continue with more of John Meader's photos, this time looking at some larger vessels. As in my last post, readers are urged to comment on photos where they can add something to our understanding of these interesting and unfamiliar boats. And as always, all photos may be clicked to enlarge.

Tour boats make up a large percentage of this fleet, among which are also a variety of other vessels: houseboats, grocers, and other small retail vendors.

A fairly typical tour boat. Some are larger, some are a little spiffier. Note the interesting cross-piece at the top of the stem. This feature appears in some of the following photos as well.

Spartan interior of the tour boat in the previous picture.

A double-decker tour boat.

This might be another tour boat, but it appears to lack seating. Other ideas?

A long-tail outdrive. There's a rudder behind the prop steered by ropes, and the whole assembly can also be steered left and right for directed thrust, and lifted out of the water, as shown. I believe these rely on automotive universal joints, and they're probably powered by auto engines as well.

This barge-like hull has a long-tailed outdrive like the one shown in the previous photo.

Even as some of these large, barge-like hulls are retired to moulder away on the river bank... ones are under construction nearby.


  1. Great Blog! I just happened to be filming on the Tonle Sap last month. We were covering an aid mission to the Vietnamese refugees but there are some nice shots of these boats in action. I actually rode in the double decker tour boat pictured above.

    Here's a link to the video.

  2. The square piece on the bows of the tour boats are for loading and unloading passengers. The boats only stick their bows into the docks, so this is the boarding point.

  3. Chuck - thanks for this input.
    Readers: Do follow Chuck's link: . The video has great footage at the beginning, and then again at the 4:00 mark. I was surprised at how fast the very small motorized "canoes" are, and it's quite revealing to see the floating village on video.

  4. Great footage Chuck. What a great video, it surely captures life in Cambodia, on the water and on the land. Clean water is the number one issue there. I went to the small village of Prolit with an NGO where they had put in wells, same sort of story. On the boats, the video is great, you give the readers of this blog a great sense of the floating villages and how these boats move. It's a place where life really is afloat in a sea of brown water. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I'll be there....Siem Reap in a month and will make an effort to visit the Tonle Sap and see the floating villages after a couple of days of temples. I fantasize about living in a floating village myself and wonder if there are any 'homestays' or small resorts. Seems like an opportunity for some of the villages to get some much needed income and an adventure for tourists.

    If anyone knows of any one interested in doing a project like this or an existing one, please contact me

  6. Does anyone know if there are any Cambodian sailboats? I sail small boats in Long Beach, CA and would like to try when I go to Cambodia soon with my wife, who is from there.