The people of the Tonle Sap live and work in harmony with the rise and fall of the Tonle Sap lake and river
The Tonle Sap River flows into the Mekon river but uniquely reverses direction. When spring melts the snow in the Himalayas, the Mekong becomes so swollen that it flows uphill up the Tonle Sap river
In June the river and lake start to rise and by the end of the rainy season in October it has increased its surface area by four or five times and increased its depth by upto 12m.
During the rainy season water rises to the doorways of the homes, the road is covered by upto 10 m of water and access is by boat.
The Tonle Sap lake at its height is the biggest fresh water lake in asia.
If time permits visit Kompung Phhluk the town on stilts. This is best seen in the dray season. In the rainy season the water rises almost to the doors.
From November the waters start to retreat as the Tonle Sap reverses its direction and flows once more into the Mekong.
While it may seem odd that the river reverses, it has some major positive consequences. The flooding of the lake, prevents the Mekong Delta from flooding in Vietnam. The flooded plains form a major part of Cambodia's rice production, the flood waters cover the land with a nutrient rich mud. The rice grown is a long stem quick growing rice which grows as the water height increases, keeping the rice seed above the water level.
The lake is one of the riches largest inland fisheries in the world. Over 70% of the fish consumed in Cambodia are caught on the lake.
Among the lake side villages – boat building is a very skilled crafted. The craftsmen use the dry season to built boats and make repairs before the rains come and the water rises 20 to 30 feet.