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Siem Reap & Tradition: Tchap trey, the fish hunt

People of all ages from the villages around Bakong gathered to take part in a huge fishing party.

Tchap trey, the fish hunt

Open to all inhabitants of the district, this annual event, which took place on February 11, required only one condition for participation: the use of traditional catching methods.

In the middle of the countryside, despite the early hour, a large flow of cars and motorcycles kicked up dust on the small road leading to the lake. Located some forty kilometers from Siem Reap, the pond, close to an Angkorian temple, suddenly fills with villagers, while the bass of a wall of sound echoes.

Tchap trey, the fish hunt

The atmosphere is festive for everyone, except for the fish, who are having a very rough time of it. Tracked down in every nook and cranny, most of the fish end up on the spit, cooked over improvised campfires, to the delight of the fishermen and their families. The latter will no doubt have earned it, as traditional fishing requires a certain amount of effort. Catching fish (tchap trey) is no easy task, whether you're flying the nets or hitting the surface with a net. The festive aspect of the event has been coupled with a spiritual content. In Cambodia, the gods are never far away, as evidenced by the Thmor Neak Ta, an outcropping of stone on the shoreline that symbolizes the spirit of the place. A portion of this miraculous catch will be donated to the surrounding pagodas, promising prosperity and abundance for the inhabitants.

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