Prodigious Waterworlds

A closer look at water-based communities around the globe.

PERHAPS USED to living on land, are you ready to test the waters? Here are societies, past and present, whose lives revolve around bodies of water.

Islas Uros, Peru

Photo: Diego Delso

Forced off the shores by the Incas centuries ago, the Uros in Peru had to come up with a solution to survive. The result: an ingenious idea of living on the lake itself. Made entirely of buoyant totora reeds, the “island” hovering on the Lake Titicaca was completely handcrafted by the ancient islanders. Gain an insight into their traditional way of living as you wander amongst the still-present society of Uros. Do not be afraid to jump on a (certainly safe!) handwoven reed boat for an escapade on the high-altitude lake. For those keen to experience their customary lifestyle, consider a homestay opportunity with a local family.

Tonle Sap Floating Villages, Cambodia

Photo: Tom Curt

Cambodia’s collection of floating villages is largely situated on or around the Tonle Sap, a large freshwater lake with an adjoining river. While some platforms were indeed built to float on the water surface, many actually utilise tall and narrow stilts, enabling the houses to remain intact during the wet season. Between April and November, incidentally, the ideal time to visit, the lake expands in both size and depth, showcasing the villages in their full glory. Hop on a boat to explore the community. Gaze at the unusual buildings that make up the flooded town and catch a glimpse of the locals going about their daily lives.

Wuzhen Water Town, China

An intricate system of waterways forms the foundation of this old ancient town. Stone bridges ascend over the canals, creating an ethereal landscape, and warm, roofed houses that look straight out of a Chinese ink painting line the water channels. Be sure to stroll along the waterways and admire the brilliant amalgamation of human and nature in the beautifully crafted town. Spice up your trip with a glint of history with a visit to the Ancient Bed Museum or the Folks Customs Museum. Entertain yourselves by catching a shadow puppet play or a martial arts performance at the town’s East Area.

Giethoorn, Netherlands

Fairy-tales and fantasies align in the picturesque, quaint and sleepy village of Giethoorn. Lush greenery and charming 19th-century farmhouses dot the town, but what truly characterises this Dutch village is their one-of-a-kind transport system. Replacing the usual cars and roads are a comprehensive network of canals and whisper boats (boats that run on noiseless engines). The cosy cottages and luscious scenery are best enjoyed via a boat ride. Do explore the option of hiring a punt to float around the hamlet on your own.  Time spent here would prove to be a fresh and whimsical escape from the hustle of the cityscape.

 

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