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While the Tonle Sap Lake awaits its seasonal flooding and the TLC-1 remains in port on the river in Kompong Khleang, TLC's clinical staff continues to make weekly trips to "our" villages.

While some may say that "getting there is half the fun", I'm sure that such sentiment would be open to debate here.

Dr. Sambon helping to unload the Landcruiser.

The journey to our first village, Moat Klas, begins at the office of TLC in Siem Reap with the staff meeting here at 0630. From here it is more than an hour's drive to the village of Kompong Khleang where we have rented a water-taxi for our weekly missions. The Landcruiser is crowded with staff and supplies and everyone must pitch in to help offload the vehicle and then load the boat.

Where the Landcruiser is parked will be under 3-4 meters of water and the village will be cut off from access to roads and land travel.

Savann heads down the slippery slope.
Unless you've been here, it may be hard to imagine that in just another two months the waters of the Tonle Sap Lake will have risen to within inches of these houses.

From the slippery slopes of the river to the water-taxi is another balancing exercise. My 100kg body is too much for the planks to bear (embarassment) and all I can do is watch as our staff makes trip after trip with all of our necessary materials and equipment.

I couldn't help but think of how people in other countries tune into their television sets at night to watch "reality tv", and would pay good money to have an opportunity to fall off such a bridge in front of millions of viewers.

Lunch is prepared enroute by Aly (TLC pilot, registrar and cook) and Kim (TLC midwife) amongst the clutter of our supplies and the noise of a Chinese built diesel engine--sans muffler.

The village of Moat Klas, now choking with water hyacinths, is a vastly different place than six months ago.
Many of the floating homes have moved further out and are on the lake proper. Some are sitting on dry (muddy) land, and some--like the village chief's house below-- are pretty much where they were when we last saw them.

The chief's house at Moat Klas.

Life in the shallows.

While in Moat Klas Dr. Sambon and Savann made a housecall to deliver a mattress to an elderly woman. Katrin Thieme, a physio-therapist with Angkors-Kinder and a previous volunteer with TLC, purchased the mattress for her. We'll be making weekly visits to this home and are confident that this mattress will help to prevent the formation bed-sores, something that could quickly become a fatal infection in this environment.

another day brought our team to Peak Chikrey and the process of unloading and setting up began all over again.

Whether the water is low or high, the practice of health care looks the same.

But getting to that care can still be a bit of a challenge.
And more of a challenge to some, than to others.

And at the end of the day.
Among seafarers there is a common bit of knowledge, "The cook is the most important person on the ship." Having something to look forward to at the end of the day makes the work a bit easier, even if dining is after dark and on the bow of a water-taxi.

18 May, 2009