The Tonlé Sap (meaning Large Fresh Water River but more commonly translated as Great Lake) is a combined lake and river system of huge importance to Cambodia.
It is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and is an ecological hotspot that was designated as an UNESCO biosphere in 1997.
For most of the year the lake is fairly small, around one meter deep and with an area of 2,700 square km.
During the monsoon season, however, the Tonle Sap river which connects the lake with the Mekong river reverses its flow.
Water is pushed up from the Mekong into the lake, increasing its area to 16,000 square km and its depth to up to nine meters, flooding nearby fields and forests.
This provides a perfect breeding ground for fish and makes the Tonle Sap ecosystem one of the most productive inland fisheries in the world, supporting over 3 million people and providing over 75% of Cambodia's annual inland fish catch and 60% of the Cambodians' protein intake.
At the end of the rainy season, the flow reverses and the fish are carried downriver.
The receding waters also leave nutrient rich deposits of sediment in the surrounding area creating prime agricultural land for the rest of the year.
The reversal of the Tonle Sap river's flow also acts as a safety valve to prevent flooding further downstream.
The lake occupies a depression created due to the geological stress induced by the collision of the Indian subcontinent with Asia.
This page was retrieved and condensed from
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonlé Sap) September 2005
In September 2005 Hui Chin's Mother passed away in Singapore.
With our family's help we rushed over to Ah Kam' funeral, missing it by a few hours, due to our distances and airline booking opportunities, or lack of thereof.
To reward our presence, we were shouted a few days to Angkor Wat or Cambodia, to be exact.
We spent a few days at Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, Lake Tonle Sap and Phnom Penh.
You can click on these photos for an enlargement.
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