Ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia - New Naratif

A Way of Life, Washed Away

Bouy Yang Aiy was born on the waters of the Tonle Sap in 1952. Like his ethnic Vietnamese ancestors before him, life on the river is all he has ever known.

“Six generations have lived here… we live with our fish baskets below,” he says, pointing beneath rickety wooden floorboards to the waters under his floating home in Chong Koh village last month.

Yang Aiy, a stocky grandfather who speaks with a rasp weathered by decades of chain-smoking, was forced with thousands of others to move to this current spot, a shallow tributary of the main river, around three years ago. In 2015, more than 1,000 families were told to move 3km upstream from their spots near the provincial capital Kampong Chhnang as part of a government plan to “beautify” the area.

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