At a drab-looking teeny village on our way to Kompong Phluk, overturned boats and discarded fishing nets symbolised the harsh dry season that has taken hold. Fishing is the main source of income here and I often inquired whether China’s gargantuan Three Gorges Dam project had any adverse effect on the Mekong. Most were fazed at my questioning, claiming they’ve never heard such an accusation. Well, there’s my attempt at a story gone into humid air.
The people here were so poor the huts barely looked intact. Two naked children frolicked under an upturned boat, languishing in the shade away from the unrelenting sunlight. One seemed to playing with a bowl of mud when I realised it was actually food. “Here”, I thought, “have a vegetable cracker.” He was duly rewarded with a balloon afterwards and I don’t know if he’s seen or much less held a balloon before, but he seemed mesmerised enough to leave us with a rewarding feeling as we left and made way for the enchantingly titled ‘floating village’. More abject poverty awaited us.