The horrors: Snakes on a boat

By Nicole Meadows

We motored in boats along a tributary that feeds into Tonle Sap Lake, 23 miles at its widest point, passing fishermen, other boats with tourists, and a floating Catholic church. The lake is home to four floating villages, rootless wooden houses on bamboo poles.

We came to the village that was enveloped in haze and smelled like hot chocolate. I didn’t notice the pair of boats approaching along side. Pirates, perhaps?

In each sat two kids and a father, who steered them gunwale-to-gunwale with our larger vessel. The two closest each had a boa constrictor draped across their shoulders, holding the head towards us and chanting the familiar “one dollar.”

Based on their speed, I thought they were going to fling the snakes like grappling hooks and shimmy across them into our boat.

Fortunately for me (I’m snake phobic), my shouts of “no” and arms repeatedly cutting “x” into the air kept them out of our boat.

But then at the tourist float, where catfish and crocodiles were on display, two more snakes appeared for photo opportunities, handled casually by natives of all ages and worn by classmates.

I saw four snakes today, which I thought was a lot, but Liz Price for Wild Asia reports that during some points of the wet season, 8,500 snakes are caught per day.

I do not want to be near water in the wet season.


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