Sunday, April 15, 2012

Back online

Finally, after two days of visits from the technicians from Online, my internet is working without the need for medical attention. Unlike me. The latest batch of pills from the doctor are doing some good but its still not clearing as quickly as I'd like. Swallowing is a problem and even sneezing a couple of times yesterday had me struggling to breathe. For thirty seconds each time I simply couldn't get any air through my windpipe. Very strange and very worrying. Meanwhile, Online worked out that the modem needed changing so they duly obliged at no cost but still it wouldn't connect. They reconfigured it again and hey presto I'm now online. Let's hope that's the end of it. As for the pharyngitis, who knows. I've done bugger all for two days, managing to get out for some food but otherwise completely wasting the New Year holiday. Not feeling good is my reason but still if feels like a waste of valuable free time.

I have a trip to look forward to in the near future, if I can rid myself of this cough. A week today and I'm off to Ratanakiri, that's northeast Cambodia for those who don't know, to go monkey spotting. Yes, that's right, spotting gibbons in the jungle. Seeing the incredibly rare northern yellow-cheeked gibbons in their natural habitat to be precise. Well, that's the plan. A two-night jungle camp, cycling and trekking, as much monkey-business as we can muster, sleeping in hammocks (which I detest with a vengeance), all in the name of keeping up to date with the latest ecotourism project to come on line. Ratanakiri is known for its waterfalls, lakes and ethnic villages but wildlife has been tough to find unless you are prepared to spend many days in the harsh and inhospitable Virachey national park. However, discovered just a couple of years ago, a surprisingly large population of what were thought to be rare gibbons, have been located in the Voen Sai region, on the outskirts of the national park, and I'm off to meet up with them. The project, under the Conservation International umbrella, calls them habituated gibbons, which means they don't run for the hills when they see humans, and if we're very lucky we might get to see wild pygmy-loris and the recently uncovered Iridescent short-legged lizard and Walston’s tube-nosed bat. Highly unlikely, but you never know. The organisers have planned a night-time jungle hike and a 3am before-dawn trek as well, which sounds like a hard slog to me, though nothing could ever be as hard as the 80km bicycle-ride-of-death I did in Mondulkiri a few years ago. Surely not. Group sizes are limited to six people only to avoid distressing the animals we might encounter. To avoid further distress I've been told not to talk about Phnom Penh Crown FC with any gibbons I meet, however friendly they might be. Bit harsh I thought. Wish me luck.

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