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(June 16–21, 2005)

Wolfgang Stich

Beavers in Vienna

Paul Stewart

The Source of the Bassac River

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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© 2005 Paul Stewart, All Rights Reserved.

The source of the Bassac River. Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The source of the Bassac River, one of the main thoroughfares of the Mekong delta, begins it's almost stagnant decent to the ocean from the city of Phnom Penh.

The riparian communities that inhabit this confluence are ethic Vietnamese born within the national boundaries of Cambodia. They are not recognised or accepted into the community by the Khmers because of their Vietnamese ethnicity. They speak Vietnamese. They are a not recognised by the Vietnamese authorities because they were born in Cambodia. Born and breed on the river has left them with no legal status at all.

Thousands of ethnic Vietnamese boat and floating house communities live alongside the banks of The Bassac, Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers in Cambodia. The convergence of the Tonle Sap and the Mekong and the separation into a new river, the Bassac, at Phnom Penh means that this area of land and good mooring is in constant flux. Not only from the daily comings and goings on the river, but also the encroachment of large building structures including the new Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the enormous Naga World Hotel & Casino (behind the shack), The Cambodiana and others.

The opening of these new facilities in the coming months and years will no doubt place an enormous strain on the water management skills of the Phnom Penh municipality and the prospects do not look good for a fresh riverside salad.

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