Images of Cambodia: Life on the Sekong River

One perfect evening in Stung Treng, my friends and I had a few Angkor beers on a bluff overlooking the river. This was our view:

The river here near the border with Laos is the San, or the Kong, or the Sekong (depending on whom you ask); not far from this lonely cliff, it merges with the even grander Mekong.

From dawn to dusk, the river pulses quietly with life. At first light, a small flotilla converges on Stung Treng town— tiny wooden boats going aground at the riverbank, disgorging village folk laden with chickens, exotic fruits, rice, and lush greens to sell in the market. At sunset, the last boats drift back to their home villages and forests, as a dense velvet night envelops the rural landscape with a completeness both lovely and slightly unsettling…just as the night, and rural-dwelling Cambodians, have been doing (I imagine) for as long as anyone can recall.

Climbing up the riverbank with goods to sell

6am at the Stung Treng market

Pagoda grounds on the Stung Treng waterfront

“Have you also learned that secret from the river, that there is no such thing as time? That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere, and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future…” –Herman Hesse, Siddhartha

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