Angkor Wat and Kampong floating village, Cambodia
There are numerous tour options for Angkor Wat, but the tour operators seemed to lump everyone together to maximize profits regardless of tour or vehicle choice based on a few rumblings I overheard from some of the others. But overall things went smoothly as we immediately headed to the main complex, crossing its large courtyards, then climbing up and through different structures and shrines which appeared to be in the process of restorations.
The iconic Angkor Wat, which is already the largest religious site in the world, is just one complex of a much larger Angkor park, which historically contained an entire Khmer city. We found the bus on the other side then headed to Ta Prohm, a large temple, dwarfed by huge banyan trees.
After lunch we visited Terrace of the Elephants along the walls of the city, Bayon Temple containing massive Buddhist head sculptures which had been turned Hindu by addition of a “third eye” (the result of religious conflicts), and finished at South Gate.
With a couple of hours break back at the hostel, I chatted with the staff as I waited for a tour of the floating village, which I recalled distinctly seeing from the air when arriving a couple of days prior. The road was smooth until we approached an artificial levee which the farmers commission each year to hold back monsoon waters. It’s dry season so everything was quite barren and as we approached the village, we could see buildings high up on stilts, each with a boat, much like cars parked in driveways.
A short boat ride through the village later, we disembarked at the local temple then walked to the villages’ main street where we visited a local family’s house. I interacted with a few kids outside then watched as some people donated money to the “school.”
On the return ride, we stopped at a restaurant in the middle of the lake for a drink and to watch the sunset, then headed home.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but donating money does not help the children which the money is intended for. It actually creates perverse incentives to create more of the problems so as to extract more money from tourists. By helping orphans, you are creating demand for more orphans to be helped, meaning you are creating more orphans.