Boat on the Tonle Sap!


Today, Samatoa has received a new volunteer. She will take care of the communication, and she will help Awen to grow his activity around the world, especially with the social network. Also, she will work on the ”Angkor handicraft Fair”, a one-stop shop for some of Cambodia’s most exciting contemporary and traditional handicrafts producers. To get to know the people, Awen suggested us to visit the Tonle Sap on boat. The weather was so fabulous!


Many people live in the floating villages. At the beginning, they came in Tonle Sap to catch the fish every day. To save time, they decided to set up on the river. At the bottom of the houses, there is about 15 meters of water. When it rains, the water’s depth increases about 5 meters. In this case, the floating houses get around and reorganize together.


A lot of crocodile were caught for a few years. People says that, we can’t find any crocodile anymore. But I will not venture to swim in the Tonle Sap river. Sometimes, some crocodile escape from their cage, but they come back on their own, because they are habituated to live inside their enclosure.


Women who live in the floating villages, use water’s hyacinths to make some handicrafts products, such as bags, baskets, boxes, fans, sandals, cushions, hats and carpets. It should be pointed that the water’s hyacinths has originated from South America, and bring out a lot of problem in the world. The boat can’t circulate, because the water’s hyacinths increase quickly.


In 2003, the NGO ”Osmose”, found out that many women use this plants to make some handicrafts products. That’s why, they decided to create an activity around this discovery in the village of Prek Toal and Pech Kantiel. “Saray” is the name of the fair trade cooperative. Thanks to this initiative, the Cambodian’ s know-how, which disappeared during the Khmer rouge genocide, began to revive. Women stopped fishing. Today, they are living thanks to their handicrafts products.


Saray’s cooperative and Samatoa are part of ” Artisan’s Association of Cambodia ” (AAC). This association is a membership-based organisation, consisting of NGOs, small-medium businesses and social enterprises all involved in the production of handmade crafts and accessories. In 2010, Samatoa worked with the Prek Toal’ s cooperative Saray, in combining silk and the water’s hyacinth. You can learn more about this cooperation, in clicking on this link:


There are three goods reasons to produce handicrafts with the water’s hyacinthe:

– the more water hyacinth is used, it is better for the environment.

– products help the women of Prek Toal to diversify their income, it also give them a sense of pride and self-confidence.

– that allows the revival of Cambodian traditional skills.


For 2,50 dollars, people can learn to weave the water’s hyacinths during one hour, with a professional weaver. Even though it’s difficult to establish a verbal communication, a certain complicity takes place in the course of the apprenticeship.



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