Mai takes a deep breath before disappearing below the muddy brown waters of the biggest freshwater lake in South East Asia. A few bubbles rise to the surface – the only sign that he is underwater, freeing his fishing net, which he had left hanging between trees in a flooded forest.
The Tonle Sap, which takes its name from a tributary that connects it to the Mekong River, is the world’s largest inland fishery – more fish are usually caught here than in any other lake on Earth.
But when Mai finally surfaces, pulling leeches off his neck as he drags his net back to his small blue boat, he knows he hasn’t got the catch he needs. By now it’s dawn. The air is already clammy, as the trees begin to vibrate with the chorus of cicadas.