The Floating Village of Mechrey

Mechrey is one of several floating villages in the Siem Reap region of Cambodia. This one in particular is still floating even during the dry season. Several of us from the Lub D hostel have booked this tour via the Adventure Travel Co. and we start our day with a 2:30pm pickup for a sunset visit to this village.

It’s a long shuttle bus ride to our point of river entry to the longboats that will transport us to this village. We can see the river is fairly non-existent at the main point of entry during the wetter season. We need to shuttle down the road to a much further boating entry place, which is just by the pagoda temple for the village. After about 35km and 1hr 20min we get on the longboats. We have two boats for our large group of 11 people, we picked up some people at other places in Siem Reap.

The longboats churn up the muddy river. After about 15min ride we can see the beginning of the village. As we ride through the village I can see most of the homes have solar panels. Our first highlight is to stop and have a meal at one of the local homes.

As we pass by many locals in their daily life I’m wondering which home we will stop and visit. I now notice that none of the homes have any boardwalks leading to the river shore. Another interesting note is that I have an excellent phone signal here. There’s a tall tower very close to the village.

The longboat slows down and veers to this one home and now I know that this is our stop.

The woman who lives in this house greets us and welcomes us in for a tour. She does not speak English so we have our guide to translate for us. We see that water is collected from the river into a barrel as stage one to allow sediment to collect at the bottom. Then she has a finer system of filtration to create drinking water.

We are told that the toilet like the other homes simply flushes into the river using the first stage water in the barrel.

As we sit in a wide circle for a meal our translator asks if we have questions for her. She tells us that she has a son and daughter but they both are in college in Siem Reap. Not too many in this village qualify for such an education. We did notice a long building structure next to her home and its the village grade school. We also found out that her husband passed away about 18 years prior and she now lives alone. It was due to an illness and he didn’t make it to the doctor in time since it’s a long journey to the nearest hospital. About once every two months volunteers from hospitals make a visit to the village for checkups.

Over our meal conversation we ask what she watches on the large flat screen TV she has. She says she likes to watch the news and has been keeping up with Coronavirus updates. She wanted to know if we knew about the virus before we arrived. We all answered yes and that none of us came from China on our journey path here in case she was worried.

We are served sweet cabbage spring rolls which were quite flavorful. Some fruits and rice with mung beans steamed inside a large bamboo shoot. You peel the bamboo and scoop out the rice, also quite tasty. We have some cold beers we brought with us in an ice chest to go with the meal. Yum.

During our meal we noticed many longboats racing down the river at high speed. The sound they make as they pass by is fairly loud. I asked her why are they going so fast? She frowned a bit indicating she was not pleased with those boats going by and said they do it for fun.

We also find out that this is not the permanent place for this village. This is the low river time site. They farm on the river banks during this season. Then when the water rises they tow every home upriver near the temple pagoda and turn to fishing for a living.

After our post meal conversation we say our goodbyes to our host, provide some donations and boat down the river some more to turn and watch the sunset.

It’s time to leave this village and head back to Siem Reap with our Lo ng ride back, this time in the darkness. The path that runs along side the river for a few miles is a bumpy dusty road. I kept pondering about life in this village during the ride and wondering what it would be like to live there long term.

That was my last tour of Cambodia, Siem Reap region. Next stop- Thailand!