Siem Reap – Stilts Of Floating Village [2017]

Many many years ago – i don’t know how many but its a fair few i mislaid something.. Well that’s not quite right, that not really right at all.  The act of mislaying having been more a kin to Wheresmeine Leiderhosen being less a something and more a something and being less loosing and more running off in the woodland.

So in 2017 what was probably about 7 years later – i went to Cambodia.


My old friend, my once most close and well thought of friend who i deposited on a train and didn’t see much off again there after, eventually headed to Cambodia some time ago to pursue the Venn diagram of pursuing social good and books – opening a charitable coffee and book shop in Siem Reap.  In any number of ways i let myself and them down for what were solid and well considered reasons.  Reasons that do nothing to legitimise, warrant or lighten the burden this mis-step.


The truth of it, a lot of time can pass beneath, while waiting for that future moment to arrive, the moment when its a memory and matter for the  past.   So that its not that kind of thing at all.  It wont simply yield beneath a weight of time to a quiet spot in the past but instead has set up permanent residence in the quiet moments between more prescient thoughts.  So I know for once, in one certain moment that i regret my choices and unquestionably owe an apology, though i only know this because i owe one to myself and wont accept it.. A forgery of an apology, selfish as it would be.  The time for apologies has however long been eaten by time.

Who comes up with a scheme to start a coffee and book shop in Cambodia and then goes off, does some course, finds people to help fund it, gets them to relinquish such funds and opens it – who does that? i was genuinely impressed by the achievement, something i had dismissed as the pipe dream of a flitting inclined mind, something so ardently pursued into reality, it was impossible not to be impressed in them and a little more disappointed in myself.

So i sent my congratulation through the lines of communication that remained sporadically active – social media:

“Saw photos of people carrying what looks like building material bags and commentary eluding to an opening.  I think I can remember when you first mentioned your intention on for this project though they do blur and warp and move around a bit the retrospective recollections .. still I’m fairly clear not the basic premise that it was not recently.

Wanted to offer congratulations on it – presuming a correct interpretations of the news feed.

It’s difficult enough to have an idea, to get it rolling in any sort of direction..if we were to be able to ask dung beetles I’m confident they would tell the stories of two challenges, not forming the ball or warding of amorous attentions of those wishing to make off with theirs … but off commencing the balls movement and then once it was with momentum, preventing it from taking advantage of gradients in the terrain to flee from their grasp like a Gloucester round cheese on cheese chasing day.

I realise this is flawed, unsuitable, message declariffying illustration of a point but all I can see I see the little fella, hind legs going .. over grassy hillocks and dunes – it’s distracting & preventing better, more suitable options from taking up brain residence

Time and the general way of things being as they seem to be – things can’t always work or seem to be working how you envisaged or hoped … over anything occupying a pre-longed time.. so it seems to me, it must probably be quite the thing to stick with it, cut out a route forward and find a way to make it real .. it’s certainly not a small thing, least it doesn’t seem like it would be ..”

Despite myself and avoiding the concept of the apology of lost legitimacy i’d covered it .. well sort of.

A reply even came back, they didn’t do that as a rule even then communication had been more of a regular thing.

  • “Thank you Neil. You should visit sometime?”

Well yes the polite invite .. the fleeting re-post, i wasn’t against the idea but … the offer, it wasn’t real, not any more.

  • “is there tea as well as coffee?”

  • “There is” another reply in relatively quick succession

  • “I’m In” … that’ll put pay to this, i didn’t want it to …  but i wasn’t going to to be the one to end this back and forth.. going there, why not… back out and re-enforce the wrongness you already – no…

And then with remarkably little delay – this came

  • “Great, come in the new year. Will definitely be here between jan – march”

And so, with that – a plan was set in motion that took form and ended up as this – my trip to Cambodia, not alone but with my very much younger than i, brother.  With it the thought that had so long resided in those quiet moments finally fell quiet, if only for a bit.  And all that was needed was to go on a pleasant trip to an interesting far flung place – not a bad solution as they go.

Miss Wong Cocktail Bar

Of course – its not a solution but it was the closest thing that had presented itself.  Cambodia in March, its not a mild place, it was in fact really quite warm.

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There had been thoughts in my mind of hiring bikes to explore, these thought were not shared by my brother, he was right.. based on the experience of the place while being ferried about by Tuk Tuk, it would not have been easier, breezier or in other ways better with the exposed, effort requiring qualities of a push bike.  We booked up 3 days of Tuk Tuk touring about the area, the first was to be a trip to the “floating” village that gave a name to this post.

Kind of just seeing a bunch of these grazing at the riverside


The boat was simplistic, long and wooden with an outboard motor.  It spluttered out, past a vast number of sister wooden floaters, many of them verging on half submerged having surrendered any thought for recapturing the time when they must have been watertight.  The water, as captured reasonably accurately by the camera was really very brown – a sort of mass spillage of somewhat watery, supermarket own brand, litre bottles of chocolate milk.  Chaps were flinging nets in and other chaps were swimming, swimming did not seem like a solid or appealing choice.  Transparent forms of water brought with them questions – it was not so much the prospect of large beasties, more the small to the really small / bacterial ones – no thank you.

The houses stand aloft on stilts on the water bank.. the water needing to get a whole lot higher before any illusion about floating could be witnesses.

Which i can only assume it does, given the images that pop up on Google if you type in something which seems reasonably relevant:

Thats a lot of additional water coming from somewhere, assuming the sky – that would be some rain.

Apparent alternative – water abundant look examples – according to Google results.