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Text and pictures by Bernhard Heiser

    Part 3:  Siem Reap  -  The "Paradise Walk" to the Tonle Sap Lake
No more temples today, just a relaxed 12 km walk from Siem Reap to the lake, where I will leave for Phnom Penh tomorrow. It's already 10 am when I finally finish my breakfast in the Mahogany guesthouse (recommended) and walk down to the Martini dancing. I pass it, and always keeping on the left side of the river, I walk through little picturesque villages.
Little bridges connect the houses and sometimes span the river. From there I have the best views and I often sit down to watch the village life around me.
Water everywhere. I see many kids fishing, people washing clothes, repairing fishing nets and boats, women are drying fish in the sun. 
In a little village I answer the friendly "Hello, bonjour" of a man in his forties with "Bonjour, comment allez-vous?". The next 20 minutes I spend talking with him, surrounded by his wife and some children. Job, travel, Cambodia, family, politics... there are many things we  both want to know from each other.
Many small kids are playing on the street. The simpler their toys are, the more fun they seem to have. This is one of the better wooden toys, probably completely hand-made by their parents.
After the last village I cross the river and find myself at the street leading to the harbour. I decide to walk all the way to the lake and to take a moto taxi back. 
This huge poster wants to tell me it's time for a break, but to the lake there are still some kilometers to go. The famous Angkor beer is brewed in Sihanoukville and available everywhere in the country. 
The last part is along the road on a "dam", only water left and right as far as I can see. In November the water level of the Tonle Sap Lake is extremely high. During the rainy season the Mekong "pushes" it's water up here, causing the Tonle Sap river to flow in reverse direction. The size of the lake is now up to seven times bigger than in dry season.
Little sausages drying in the sun.
Many families live on houseboats and in floating villages. With the high water level now, large areas are flooded and life concentrates here along the road.
The speedboat to Phnom Penh leaves from here. There is also another hot spot for watching sunsets, the 137 m Phnom Krom mountain. I have a noodle soup for lunch on a floating restaurant before walking back to the main road to look for a moto.
After some bargaining we agree on 3000 Riel for the ride back to Siem Reap, where I have to get another film in the guesthouse. In the warm afternoon light I do a part of my morning walk in the reverse direction, passing all these villages with those friendly and smiling people again. Many children are already coming home from school.
Almost back in Siem Reap, I pass a school with boys and girls orderly lined up in the schoolyard. A second after I make this picture through the fence a little girl discovers me and suddenly 150 faces are turning towards me, leaving the teacher a little bit helpless... 

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