Thursday, July 4, 2013

Mountain spirits calling

One adventurous soul who is not afraid to travel where no-one has been before is Greg McCann. His book, Called Away by a Mountain Spirit: Journeys to the Green Corridor, tell of his three treks into the wilderness of the Virachey national park, and in particular the Haling-Halang mountains on the Cambodian side of the border with Laos in Ratanakiri province. This area is not for the faint of heart. This is remote, unexplored, virgin territory that visitors are almost guaranteed to get lost, not to mention the certainty of catching malaria. The author and his Khmer-Lao and indigenous guides penetrate a lost world of tropical jungles and remote grasslands that are known only to a handful of poachers and loggers. The book describes the animist tribes who live on the park's periphery, including the Brao, Kreung, Tampuan and Bunong highlanders, as well as looking at the endangered wildlife that persists within the park's boundaries, such as tigers, clouded leopards, leopards, Asiatic elephants, gibbons, douc langurs, hornbills, and much more. The book has been republished this year by Dr Cicero Books but whilst available on Amazon, is not yet on the shelves of Monument Books, as its hard to get hold of. Greg is determined to travel to the area again at the beginning of next year and put up some camera traps to record exactly what secrets the jungle has to tell. You can find out more at http://habitatid.org/.

I mentioned the updated Strongman, The Extraordinary Life of Hun Sen, by Harish and Julie Mehta recently, so to be completely neutral in this pre-election period, I will also refer to another new book, We Didn’t Start the Fire: My Struggle for Democracy in Cambodia by Sam Rainsy with David Whitehouse, a British journalist living in Paris. As you might expect, it gives the Rainsy view on everything under the sun, from his nice comfortable armchair in France. He was due to launch the book in Bangkok last month, but was denied entry. I don't think we will be seeing him anytime soon.

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