Saturday, May 16, 2009

One helluva ride

A young girl in the village of Mlu Prei with her kapok pods
For much of the time, the track we followed was actually better than I had expected. Admittedly it was the dry season and it was only the rain of a couple of nights before, that has left the surface water on top. The track was easy enough to follow, there were a handful of villages en route to ask directions and though it would be impossible to take a motorized vehicle along the same route as us, it was straightforward for motos. Yes it was a bit boring at times, 11 hours on the back of a moto isn't my ideal form of relaxation, but we saw a variety of birdlife, the villagers we met were ultra friendly, the children fun and playful and it is always interesting to push yourself to the limit of your endurance from time to time. After we left Stung Treng and Thala Borivat behind, the road remained good for ten minutes before it turned bad, lots of large puddles to navigate around or through and no people whatsoever. An hour into the ride we suffered our first puncture and then an attack by wasps and at 10am, our first village, Thmor Thmei. The children at Chhvang, where we paused for a water-break, were adorable and after initially running away screaming, they returned for a photoshoot and smiles all round. It was here that we flooded the exhaust and spark-plugs and had to wait a while for them to dry. The forested wilderness was punctuated by villages such as Veal Veng, Sralau, Chhaeb, Saem, Sgkear before we reached the district HQ of Mlu Prei. At Pou Teap I suffered an acute attack of diarrhea though my stomach had stood up well until that point, as well as both Tim and I falling off the motos. It was pitch black as we reached the Sen River and crossed the wooden bridge at the gateway to Tbeng Meanchey, our home for the night and the motodops had done well to navigate in the dark for a good half an hour, without lights and in a forested area. The end of the most difficult day of our trip but one that will remain with us for some time to come.
A muddy main road through the village of Saem
A community hall in the village of Saem
The police station in Mlu Prei
A rickety wooden bridge in Mlu Prei
This Mlu Prei girl looked great in her krama but took it off for the photo!
Leaving Pou Teap via a small wooden bridge over a temporary waterway
A tree trunk bridge across a river in the middle of nowhere
We're just about to see the last of the sun and we're still many kms from Tbeng Meanchey

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