Saturday, 4 February 2012

Floating Village

Using the same tuk tuk driver that picked us up from the bus station, we booked a tour of the floating village for 1pm the following day. It would cost us $6 each for the tuk tuk and $10 each for the boat trip. Ian was unable to come as he once again had a bad case of travellers diarrhoea!

A local mum and her child that we met in the town just before we set off

After a 20 minute ride we arrived at the boat, where we each had to pay a $2 entrance fee just to have the privilege of getting onto the boat! When we went to buy our boat tickets the guy tried charging us $15 each, we said it was too much and eventually he agreed to $12 each for a 1 and a half hour ride instead of the standard 2 hour trip.

We had our own boat between the 5 of us and sailed along the lake and through the floating villages. These were interesting to see but the sad side of it are the women who bring out their young children and babies on boats and beg tourists for money. Usually the eldest child will have a snake wrapped around their neck and then they would charge tourists to hold the snake and have photos taken. One of the young children we saw actually had a dead snake wrapped around her! We only realised this after she put it on the floor and it didn't move, the tell tale grip marks around the poor snakes neck were probably an indicator as to how it had died.

Aaron got to drive the boat

The girl with the dead snake!

Just a few of the homes where the locals live

After a stop off to see some crocodiles, that are eventually turned into handbags and sold to tourists, you are then guilt tripped into buying food for the orphaned children. You can buy a large box of instant noodles for $20, it works out at 40 cents per pack or you can buy a large bag of rice for $50. We knew that the prices we were being charged were obscenely inflated and even with the owner promising that 45% of the profits go back into helping the community i had trouble believing that this was true and we left without buying anything.

The crocodiles that are soon to be handbags!

If you do want to bring food for the local children then buy food before the boat journey.

Our 1 and a half hours was soon up and we found ourselves making our way back to land where our driver dropped not so subtle hints about being tipped. I make a point of not tipping anyone, firstly because I'm travelling for a long time and would end up short of cash had i tipped every person that served me food, took me on a day trip or begged for money. Secondly, because the price of the boat fare was extortionate. I am well aware that the poor boat driver is paid a pittance and who knows where all the money is really going (certainly not to the villages) but us alone cannot save the world by giving money to everyone, its just not possible.

A couple of the local houses. All are built on stilts to prevent flooding during the rainy season

Although it did feel like we had visited a human zoo, the boat trip was worth while and you could probably help the locals in a more proactive way, instead of being guilt tripped into buying overpriced food on board the boat.

Due to cloud and a little rain we didn't get to see the sunset and so we each had $1 discounted from the tuk tuk fare and returned home for 4pm.

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