The Floating Village

When I first arrived in the United States at the age of 9, I was mesmerized by how things were so different from Paris.  There is one particular memory that I usually bring up at parties and get a good laugh at it.

My family had friends that lived in a trailer (mobile home or motor home).  I thought it was the coolest thing ever!!!  I remember going inside and visiting.  It had a bathroom, a kitchen, a dining area; the living room could be converted into a bedroom.  “How cool is that!” I thought. I told myself that I would study very hard, make lots of money and someday be able to buy a mobile home so I can travel the world and always take my house and family with me.  Little did I know that these mobile homes were associated with “poor” people who could not afford an apartment or real house.  To an adult, the trailer could have just been as ordinary as a cardboard box, but for a girl with a vivid imagination it was a treasure and an adventure.

I had a similar experience before I visited the floating village of Chong Kneas.  My mind went straight to the “over-the-water-huts” of Bora Bora and the Maldives for some reason. I thought again… How cool would it be to live over the water!

My experience was quite different.  I arrived at the dock and saw a long brown murky river. After hiring a boat, I made my way through the river to reach the floating village.  On my way, I saw all kinds of trash in the water.  I saw kids playing in the water and saw others bathing on the opposite bank.  I saw mothers washing clothes, while the fathers were trying to fish.

I finally arrived at the village and saw colorfully decorated shacks barely held up together by thin wooden stilts.

A little girl floating in a big metal bowl quickly approached me and tried to put a snake around my neck for $1.  I felt a little depressed there.

As we rode through the village, I peek into some of the homes.  They had a pretty nice set up going… No one really seemed sad… this is all normal to everyone.  I wonder if the kids thought it was cool to have a home over the water.  Honestly, if the water were a bright turquoise, for some reason it would make a complete 180 of my perception.  Unfortunately, I was quickly brought back to reality.  I should not have looked but I could not help myself.  It was a mother and daughter (age 3 or 4) sitting on their raft.  The mother was talking to someone in the house.  The little girl stood up, pulled down her pants, and leaned over the raft to pee in the water and at the same time with her free hand, used the same water that she urinated in to splash water in her private area to clean herself.  I was very saddened by this.  But what did I think???  These floating homes have first class plumbing??  No, this is the water that they use for EVERYTHING.  Washing, cooking, cleaning, fishing, etc…

Of course I know there is a lack of clean water for many people on this Earth but to actually see this first hand really gives a meaning to the problem we are facing and we could face some day.  This really makes you think about your priorities in your life.

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2 Responses to “The Floating Village”

  1. It is pretty unreal to see first hand isn’t it? I think we went to the same village while we were there. I look at water very different now after coming back. We definitely take it for granted. Clean water won’t go away, just access is limited in some places (I didn’t want you to get scared that our water is going away!) But there are some really amazing organizations that are doing something about it if you wanted to get involved! Great post, thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for the note Carrie. Yes, you always hear about clean water problems but it really hits you when you see this first hand.

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