If you search the word “exotic” in google images, what shows up are palm tree-lined beaches, Asian fruits, sport cars, weird looking cats and sexy women that look ready to give it up. I search the word “exotic” in google images every now and then, hoping a baguette or cheeseburger will pop up, but it’s still just the predictable. It’s still a one-way descriptive term.
I just came from two very different village scenarios: the Floating Villages in the Tonle Sap Lake and the Palm Village Resort and Spa in Siem Reap, in that order.
The Floating Villages are communities that live on the lake, and I stayed at the villages on the south end of the lake not the touristy area further north. If you are a foreigner staying at these villages you are probably with an NGO developer, like I was. There would be nowhere to stay otherwise. We stayed in the schools.
The latter village was a resort, or “nature’s oasis” as the sign said. I didn’t take any pictures of the resort, but it’s like any nice resort: cool bungalow, amazing spa treatments, pool surrounded with palm trees. Just like the images google finds. I did take hundreds of pictures at the Floating Villages because that was what I agreed to do for the NGOs. And I’m glad I did and I sincerely hope their project is successful.
I decided to not post any pictures of the Floating Villages, although it was the most profound experience of my trip so far. They would look too exotic which is inaccurate. That’s one of the problems with photography- it removes the context.
The last night there, our floating house/school drifted around the lake in the dark. All the homes were drifting, running into each other and the tall grass. We were spinning to the point where we had a hard time orienting ourselves. It was frightening and incredible at the same time. And unphotographable. That night when a rat gnawing on a baseboard kept waking me up, I fantasized about how as soon as I got to a hotel and showered in a major city, I was going to get a cheeseburger. And my exotic cheeseburger came true, with a little piece of pineapple.