(INDOCHINA TRIP.2019) The Journey To Promote New Records In Indochina - P.5. The Great Lake Tonle Sap - The biggest lake in Indochina.

06-09-2019

(Indochinakings.org) Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in not only Cambodia but in whole Indochina, featuring a unique and diverse ecological system.

Tonlé Sap, commonly translated to 'great lake' is a seasonally inundated freshwater lake, the Tonlé Sap Lake and an attached river, the 120 km (75 mi) long Tonlé Sap River, that connects the lake to the Mekong River.They form the central part of a complex hydrological system, situated in the 12,876 km2(4,971 sq mi) Cambodian floodplain covered with a mosaic of natural and agricultural habitats that the Mekong replenishes with water and sediments annually. The central plain formation is the result of millions of years of Mekong alluvial deposition and discharge. From a geological perspective, the Tonlé Sap Lake and Tonlé Sap River are a current freeze-frame representation of the slowly, but ever shifting Lower Mekong Basin. Annual fluctuation of the Mekong's water volume, supplemented by the Asian Monsoon regime causes the unique flow reversal of the Tonle Sap River.

 

Its dimension changes depending on the monsoon and dry season. During raining season from June to October, the lake is filled by water flowing from the Mekong with 14 meters in depth and expands the surface of 10,000 square Kilometers. In dry season from November to May its size 3,000 square kilometers with two meters in depth and water flows out from the Lake to the Mekong, in and out flowing is the natural phenomenon occurrences. The flooded forest surrounding the edge of the lake is the best shelter and also very important for all kinds of fishes spawned and breeding babies. This lake providing many of biodiversities, over 300 species of fresh water fishes, as well as snakes, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles and otters. More than 100 varieties water birds including storks, pelicans, etc

 

The Lake is also an important commercial resource, providing more than half of the fish consumed in Cambodia. In harmony with the specialized ecosystems, the human occupations at the edges of the lake is similarly distinctive - floating villages, towering stilted houses, huge fish traps, and an economy and way of life deeply intertwined with the lake, the fish, the wildlife and the cycles of rising and falling waters.

 

With more than 170 floating villages on Tonle Sap the majority of the 80,000 inhabitants are considered non-immigrant foreigners. Made up three ethnic groups of Vietnamese, Khmer and Cham they are a people without a country.

Enduring the brutality of the Khmer Rouge regime, Vietnamese living in Cambodia faced execution or deportation to Vietnam. Many were traded for rice and salt and laboured in farm fields in the late 1970’s. Stripped of all Cambodian identity, property and papers, those who returned to Cambodia in the 1980’s could neither reclaim or buy land. Their solution then and generations later today, is to live in wooden homes floating on bamboo rafts and barrels.

The lake located about 15 km south of Siem Reap town; you can make your journey from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh by express boat crossing the lake and dock at the village of Chong Khneas. Its takes only six hours, but this trip we may recommend you during Monsoon season. In dry season the boat sometimes stuck in mud because the water is low. There are several ways to see the culture and wildlife of the lake area depending on the amount of time you have and your interest.

 
The largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, it contains an exceptional large variety of interconnected eco-regions with a high degree of biodiversity and is therefore a biodiversity hotspot. It was designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1997.

 


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