cham people amid fishing boats mekong river cambodia

Cham Fishing Village on the Mekong


Buzzing across the Mekong River a chorus of put-put boat engines.

I count nearly 100 saipans dotting the wide waters, puffing smoke as engines struggle upriver, while other boats sit upon the river, people pulling-in fishing nets.

According to locals, it’s the best season to fish.

VIDEO: Cham fishing village on the Mekong River

From a riverside balcony on the 3rd-floor of my guesthouse, I watch this addictive river scene in the shade of a sweltering day.

Drinking beer.

fishing boats mekong river kampong cham cambodia
Fishing boats dotted across the Mekong River at Kampong Cham during fishing high season in Cambodia.

Motoring boats. Nets pulled in. Boats returning to the floating fishing village on the far side of the Mekong.

cham fishing boat with nets cambodia
Photo from above on Kizuna Bridge crossing the Mekong River at Kampong Cham.

Then again, the spluttering boats go out to cast net and haul.

From sunrise to sunset, this fishing frenzy continues.

I’m watching this in the Mekong riverside city of Kampong Cham – “Port of the Chams”.

fishing net from boats cambodia
Cham villagers pull fishing nets onto boats.

And it is the Chams who are doing most of the fishing.

Cham People – Islam in Cambodia

Within the majority Khmer population of Cambodia is an ethnic minority called the Chams.

saipan boats river sunset cambodia
Dusk across the boats of a Mekong River.

This ethnic group was originally Hindu – as were others 1000+ years ago in Cambodia but later, instead of converting to Buddhism, they turned to Islam.

cham village street stall cambodia
Cham village Cambodia: Friendly locals relaxing at this Muslim village stall near the mosque of Rahmah.

Today Buddhism accounts for 95% of Cambodia’s population.

But of the 150,000+ Muslims, roughly 80% belong to the Cham ethnic group.

Some people follow traditional Sunni Islam, while others are Fojihed Muslims who adhere to a Cham interpretation of the religion, including belief of the supernatural and magical powers.

Walking around a Cham settlement on the banks of the Mekong

After an entire afternoon—and the next morning—of watching this panoramic of fishing action, I knew it was time to get my legs working and exercise my way across to the far river bank to visit the settlement from where all this activity stemmed.

It was a hot walk across the mighty Kizuna bridge.

boys and lots of puppies cambodia
Visiting a Cham village: Boys and a zillion puppies – spot the lonely one on the left side.

Dusty along the village dirt trails.

Lots of “Hello-Hello”-s.

It surprised locals that a foreigner would bother to visit.

I stopped and took some snaps.

And visited the Rahmah mosque.

Hung-out with crazy kids on the river bank.

And later accepted a ride in a fishing boat back across the river to the city as dusk set over the Mekong.

young girl sunset smile cambodia
On the shores of the Mekong River at a Cham village: Young girl with a sunset smile.

Travels in Cambodia – 2014

Join the Journey

Get my FREE book of Crazy Travels & occasional updates

Join the Journey

Get my FREE book of Crazy Travels & occasional updates