Friday, December 27, 2013

Silver Languar Sounds

I have this video of the Languars chirping at Ben.  You can't see them but you can hear their grunting - they are mad at him I think.  Close your eyes and listen as there is nothing to see except leaves and shakey footage.  They must have been just above in the next layer of the trees... but they are there!  The bark at the end there is actually a dog.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Zipline video

Well they finally finished that zipline.  I think it ended up being only 350m but here is a little 60 seconds of what you can experience if you come and visit us.  I don't think you are supposed to twist around - the cameraman couldn't manage to hold the camera and keep the pulley from twirling - twirled around so much that it ended up stopping in the middle - needs one of those little cameras that stick on your hat. Also, please excuse the bumpy nature of this video and the pixels.  Still learning how all this works!

You will see how grizzled Ben looks is which is pretty much what he looks like everyday these days.

We are very grateful for a volunteer who has come out to help, Alex from Queensland has given up his summer break to rough it out in the wilds here, living on rice and beans (or maybe not exactly living but existing - since he is probably sick of that already after 5 days - I'll see how he went when they return this weekend!)

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Activity Update:  one 400m zipline almost up.  It was challenging rounding a rather large Jombok tree, first trying on one side, then on the other but it is up.  Tightening needed and then it should be a go. 

Part Two of the Visit

It has taken a little while to get to the second instalment of this series.  But I have the photos.  Our objective for the next morning was to hike to the temple which we used to call the Hidden Temple because we could never find it.  Now we have a cleared path almost right to it.  The path leads to a laterite wall and a steep incline which Ben is not quite sure how to approach clearing.  He wants to leave it somewhat untouched however it is still a bit of a scramble up.  We managed however.
On the way up we found all sorts of interesting artefacts from many hundreds of years ago.  There were bits of turned clay – possibly parts of windows.  There were the linga rock carvings (the base).  And just lots of square laterite blocks.  We proceeded up the bank and arrived at the entrance of the cave temple.  It is really just a couple of walls leading into a cave.  The villagers told Ben that not so long ago, the cave was full of Buddha and other sculptures.  The treasure hunters took whatever was valuable and dug around looking for more.  There used to be a dragon head with water coming out of its mouth at the spring also.  That would have been very cool to see.  In any case, it is all still interesting.  We kept stumbling across the lathed clay, and then a clay brick even.  Walking down, we went by the waterfall with drizzling water now that the rainy season has stopped.  At the bottom of the fall are three sets of feet.  Two sets of lions’ feet and one person’s feet – these all of course, carved in rock.
The morning’s hike was devoid of wildlife.  Probably something to do with the “I’m tired” noise that kept following us.  We did see a variable squirrel and that was about it.  He isn’t too exciting since we have one at home that terrorizes us all.    
We had a late lunch of spaghetti which even Ben’s workers ate.  The kids played in the creek.  All families need a little creek I think.  Kids have such fun playing in a creek.
Then Ben took me out to see the dam he wants to repair to make a lake.  It is an ancient dam and just a tiny bit of repair work needs to be done to fill it again.  Then just nearby there is some land where the garden is to be – an old slash and burn field, and the horses (ponies?) should have a field right by there, where there is the right type of grass for them.  Right now, it just all looks like forest, and tall grass.  Not too much fun to wade through.
The next day, Ben and the workers started up their trail building again.  Ben got them started and then came back to take us out to see where we’ll put our house and the lodge, and the swimming pool.  This is all very fun.  I imagine it feels somewhat like the pioneers felt: “We’ll build a house here and put our garden here.  Make a barn here and a field here for the horses and cows.  Dig the well here...”  We found a good spot for the lodge backing onto the little spot of evergreen forest but looking out on the deciduous dry forest.  Our house will be on the other side of that same forest, not too far away.  It has a view of the mountain and there is a good sunny spot to put out the solar panels and make a kitchen garden. We worked out the lay of the house – which is essentially the same as our current house but adding on an extra bedroom (for us).  We also laid out a first guest house which will be in between – just a single roomed stilt house with a loft for extra beds, and maybe a swinging bridge to a little viewing platform in a nearby tree.  Inside that evergreen forest is an old laterite block quarry which the ancients must have dug for their rock for building their little temples.  There are still a number of blocks scattered all around and you can see the squares where they dug out of the ground.
And that was that little excursion.  The girls found a fun climbing tree.
The last day of our visit was for departure.  We broke camp.  Ben had his guys laying out pipe from the creek to the camp for half the morning.  We then had an early lunch and commenced the trek back.  Again, Ben biked out with most of the luggage.  Then came back and picked up the girls.  Then came back and picked me up.  We got home that night a little after dark.  Dirty and tired. 
Ah, I forgot to mention the fun part about our drive back.  If you remember, we couldn’t drive out there in the first place, because Ben’s pickup was not working.  Well, we had to tow that back all the way to Rovieng.  That was certainly eventful.  Very slowly and carefully we drove along.  Apparently the brakes were not working properly either and so if I slowed down suddenly, which I did a couple of times, well then we could have a little prang.  Somehow we avoided any accidents.  One time he had to swerve to the side to avoid me when I slowed for a pothole and the rope went under his front tyre, severing some brake cable.  Finally made it back to Rovieng without any more events.  The local mechanic was able to get the car running by bleeding the fuel lines and then Ben took the car to Kompong Thom to fix up some other bits and pieces.  So now things are running smoothly on the pickup front.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Visit

Finally the girls and I found a chance to get out to the forest.  Last week the sun was out enough to dry up the roads and to lull us into thinking that dry season was finally here.  Ben had been home for a few days and was taking a couple of workers out from Rovieng to help him.  The rice harvest is in full swing so the locals there aren't too free to help.  He managed to find two guys to help him and left home on Tuesday.  We planned to head out on Wednesday – giving him enough time to set up camp and get the guys going on the jobs to do.  Well the trip out didn't go to plan.  Well I should say the trip out went as expected.  The truck made it to the village.  They loaded up some stuff they wanted to take out to the work-site.  Drove up the road about twenty metres and stalled there in a mud puddle.  The fuel tank lines were a bit clogged apparently and our mechanic friend suggested the car needed a repair job done in Kompong Thom, three hours away.  Ah.  So.  Get off the truck.  Take only essentials which can be carried on a motorbike and workers head out of foot.  That was the plan.  Ben made two trips on the bike to take out stuff.  He got to the campsite and waited for the two men.  Oh, I need to digress here – and recall what happened earlier.
On Sunday night, one of the guys visited us.  He was very chatty and happy.  Said he’d be happy to stay out there two or three months.  Said he needed an advance.  Asked if it was OK to have a little drink after work.  He said lots of things.  He was a bit intoxicated.  On Tuesday morning, Ben was latish in leaving.  By the time he picked them up, this one guy again had been imbibing.
Well, by the time they got out to the village, he had sobered up a little.  They were supposed to walk out to the campsite and normally this takes about one and a half hours – it is about 8 km.  Ben had been back to the village twice and was waiting for them for quite a while at the camp.  He went out and found them on the road discussing whether to take the road that had the motorbike tracks or the road that the drunk guy thought was the right road.  He had been out before – so he “knew”.  He had drunk up his one litre of rice wine, which he had brought, on the road out and was more intoxicated than when Ben had last left him.  Ben offloaded their packs and went back.  He waited and waited.  Eventually they turned up just before it turned dark.  The workday was done.  We decided to give them another day to get started before we headed out – so that would take us through till Thursday.  Wednesday night it poured rain.  It had been a few days of sunny, sunny weather – getting cool but those lovely sunny winter days that I love about living here.  Well Thursday was a dreary day with rainstorms on and off.  A curl up in bed hot chocolate day.  We did school though.  On Friday morning, however, the sun was out and we started off.  I had loaded into the car two single mattresses and my extra stove and a gas tank.  Just in case the road had dried up enough to cross the river (creek really but they call it a river).  We met Ben in the village at midday.  The road was still slippery at that one place.  Sad.  So we drove out to the river-creek and parked the car.  Taking essentials only.  Ben had the motorbike so we didn't have to backpack everything in.  We hiked a little ways and got to ride on the bike the rest of the way.  And finally, we are in the forest.

The hike out was beautiful.  We crossed the swinging bridge which Ben built last April.

I finally saw the corduroy road which he built to cross the swampy part of the road.  Looks like fun in a car!

The dryland forest is in full bloom.  These are mostly tiny little ground cover flowers of many different kinds.  Jarrah was stopping and picking them all.  I tried to take pictures of each kind.

Forest on the hike out – this is mostly a monoforest of Trike (the English or the Latin name I do not know!)

So, here is the campsite from afar which I took as I walked in–you  can see the in construction building on the right, the temporary shack in the middle and the warehouse on the left.

So, that afternoon we went for a walk on the new trails which they had been building and went to see the site for the lodge which was off-trail through nice tall itchy grass!

We came back – had a dinner of canned fish fried with tomatoes and garlic and rice and we had a lovely bathe in the little creek there by the campsite.  We all four slept in one mossie net on a queen sized mattress.  The stars that night were all out and shining.

This is getting rather long so I’ll keep the rest of our adventures for another post.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gibbons this Time

We can finally add gibbons to the list of sighted animals.  While we have heard them hooting (a very distinctive hoot), we haven't been able to spot them till today.

While out on patrol (he calls it patrolling but really he is just hiking), Ben heard a pair not too far away - heading in that direction, he then heard another pair hooting from the other direction.  Soon he was in the midst of them and less than 10 metres away, they came pretty low to the ground and were just really mad at him for invading their territory.  He saw a mother, father and two youngsters up higher swinging.  He was able to watch them for about 20 minutes.  Then he decided to hoot back - that scared them off right away.  He then walked for about 200 metres and right in front of him a little above eye level in the trail was another female - not sure if she was part of the family or from another group.

Also today, he saw another group of languars and more hornbills who were flushed out of their fruit tree.  Not a bad wildlife day.  It will be interesting to see what protection can do for these animals.  If we can keep the place safe enough from hunters and poachers, the wildlife which is obviously there, should start to feel safer and be more willing to come out.  It is really quite a balancing act because we want them safe and to feel safe but maintaining their wariness of humans is also not a bad thing for their own good if we cannot keep the place safe.  It would be ideal if they realised that a certain area was safe and they worked out where the boundaries were.  We really need to get some development and training going on in the village to educate about the impact of hunting and also find other livelihoods for them that can directly come out of their non-hunting. We need some development activities which impact them directly which is also contingent on their non-hunting.

No cameras today either.  I have his little compact here in Phnom Penh trying to get cleaned up - it is foggy and we were guessing that there was mould build up inside but no repair shop wants to attempt to open it up since it is not broken.  I did manage to find a guy who has repaired camera traps before - I hope he can fix ours - both will not power on.  It will be fun to see what what we can catch in these traps.

This wasn't taken by us but this is a female gibbon contemplating something... see for credit

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Hornbill Tree

The other day Ben was out hiking and he came across a wild fig tree loaded with fruit and birds.  On closer inspection he was able to make out that the tree was loaded with figs and he thought about 30 or so Pied Hornbills feasting.  After watching for a while, something spooked them and they all took off.  He then estimated that there were about 100 or so of the Pieds.  He also was able to identify a pair of Great Hornbills.  A really exciting spotting - these are huge birds-according to wikipaedia about 1 metre long, 1.5 metre wingspan and weighing 2-4 kgs.  They have the best personalities, if ever you get to meet a tame one - friendly and comical.  I imagine they are awesome to see flying.  Naturally, Ben didn't have the camera.

The same day he came across more troops of languars and some giant black squirrels.  Wild pigs have also been scuffling around the building site and digging up the garden attempt.  In general he has noticed that the languars are coming closer and closer to the building site - which is good meaning they are feeling more secure.  Lets hope we can protect them. He just told me today that he wants to fence in about 500 ha - the core of the core area to keep out hunters and their dogs.

They also have been trailing more banteng (the wild cows) in the last few days, but not sighted them.  They were very very close yesterday and found some big tracks - telling me they were from a wild bull. Of course I asked him how he knew it was a bull.  He asked me back why I always question him!?  He thinks I don't trust his tracking skills!  Anyway, the answer was that the bulls are significantly larger than the females.  Valid answer I suppose.

Ben's been out there for the last ten days.  He's had helpers from the local village and has been making trails and patrolling.  He gets a range of personalities helping him.  He has worked out that the older, ex-Khmer Rouge soldier men are much tougher and know how to work hard.  This one guy who is on the Community Forest Committee has been helping a lot and has stayed out a lot longer than the others, saying he feels bad leaving Ben out there on his own.  Some other guys are less active - one spending a lot of time during the day "conserving energy." Others are a bit free spirited.  Actually, mostly they are all very free spirited.  They are happy for a couple of days work then need to go and do their other jobs.  The soya bean harvest is starting and it is proving more difficult to get helpers from the local village.  And then soon after that they will start harvesting the rice which means everyone will be busy with that.  We will eventually need to be hiring people on a permanent basis which will be an interesting task.

So this week, they have a finished trail to the temple on the mountain (both terms, temple and mountain are used freely here - temple being a pretty small construction and mountain being about 300 m elevation, maybe).  But a trail to this place is progress.

Here are some pictures of the temple and cave taken in 2012 when we bush-bashed our way through.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Loggers and Logos

It has been quiet on here lately.  Ben has had a frustrating time with the weather.  We went to Phnom Penh in September for a supposed few days however it was raining and raining, making return to the forest difficult to say the least.  In the last posting he had roofed the building, and then left it for about 10 days.  They hadn’t been able to build a lock-up-able shed yet and was having fun trying to remotely manage guarding responsibilities.  After that first stretch away, he did return and quickly (half a day!) was able to put together a little shed that now has a padlock on it to store tools etc.  Alleviating the need for a 24/7 guard.  Deep breath of relief. 
Patrolling the site has been fun and frustrating also.  He has been struggling with the ever present loggers.  This time, there has been demand from purchasers for rosewood – these middlemen have permission from unidentified powers to transport the wood and also to protect the logger and so there was quite a bit of activity going on for a while – and from the local villagers which is sad.  There seems to be a little more will from the authorities to curb this activity as of this week and they just caught a couple of ox-carts of wood and sent it to the Wat.
Last month, they had a little bonfire per compliments of the Forestry Administration who came to supervise.  These particular items belonged to loggers from Siem Reap or Kompong Thom.
One of the nights when Ben was sleeping out there, they heard a hard at work.  He and his workers quickly got up and went out in the direction of the sound.  They managed to creep up on the logger and caught his attention with a picture (below)
He managed to escape with his chainsaw leaving his backpack of other equipment which they confiscated.  After which, Ben and his team looked around them and found they were in the dark without a compass and without the GPS.  No sky to speak of due to pouring rain.  Ben had his thongs on.  One of his workers was carrying Ben’s boots intending to wear them himself (Ben didn’t want to get them muddy so he himself didn’t wear them).  They tromped back to their worksite – finally finding a road they knew and following it in the wrong direction for a bit before turning around the right way.  Ben has learned to take his GPS on night time raids.
Here was another find – a tree that they are so desperate to down that they are digging up the roots.  It is a Tnong (a type of rosewood) that is full of holes but they want it so bad they are digging the roots.  Ben told them not to cut it down and it is still there – for the present.
And finally here is a picture of the jumping caterpillar who I was referring to in a previous post.  It hatched or transformed I should say into a moth.  There has been all sorts of gossip going around about these guys.  I head a story in Rovieng that they are living in Umbrella trees and that if they fall on you, you die.  And so the Umbrella trees should not be played under, if not cut down.  Amazing the stories that go around. 
On the business front, we found someone to design a logo for us.  Here are the options that she came up with for the first draft.  We have chosen the name beTreed – meaning get treed – i.e. as in like a racoon stuck up a tree with dogs chasing it.  But a slightly more positive connotation – get up in the trees.  Stay in a treehouse.  Fly through the trees on ziplines etc.  That is the idea.  We like the first design.  Stay tuned in for the website although it may be a little while!  But I hope not too long.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Updated Bird List and Other Bits and Pieces

In April, Ben and our bird watcher friend Lisa went to Phnom Tnout to do a bird survey and to see if they could find a White Winged Duck.  They found a pair of White Winged Ducks and also documented 37 other species of birds, increasing our bird list by about four times.
It was a good day out.  I finally got around to writing up the list to post here so you can look over at The Birds page for an updated list.

Lately, Ben has either been rained in or rained out.  He finished up roofing the building and realised he was short of the tin roofing caps, he finished up a storage shed which is lockable.  Very important.  Then it started to rain and so he came home.  He came with us to Phnom Penh for a week sorting out various vehicle issues. And so we returned home for it only to start raining again.  It has cleared up now, just in time for Pchum Ben holiday where we get hundreds of visitors to our house - so maybe we'll go out to the forest for a break soon.

That is about it for now.  I do have some pictures to put up but alas my battery has run out as I sit here at the bank (where there is fast internet).

Signing off for now.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Progress and Pictures

Last Sunday, the girls and I returned home from Phnom Penh and Ben also returned home from the forest.  He had been out there for 16 days straight.  He had just run out of food so was looking forward to eating – anything.

He brought with him some pictures he had taken. Unfortunately he had forgotten to take our small camera and the only camera he had was the one on the GPS.  One we haven’t used before.  We had upgraded the GPS to include the camera one, wondering why we needed it.  Well it has proven its worth.  We have a picture of the banteng that he saw – albeit very small (there is no zoon on the GPS!). And, also shots he took of the latest building progress.  Enjoy.  I have a recording of a languar (or leaf monkey) barking at Ben – need a better internet connection before I can post that).

Can you see the brown spot in the middle of the page?  That is the Banteng.

Here he is, zoomed in, but somewhat pixelated – same shot.

Here is the building #1 on August 27.  It is starting to look like a building.

And here, from September 1, is the building with three-quarters of the roof on!  Exciting.  Now just a floor and we can use it (walls are superfluous – we have never liked walls!)

Finally, here below is the future site of our house.  The forest is a Deciduous Dry Forest so not as muggy and oppressing as a Tropical Rainforest.  Beautiful in wet season – a little bit leafless in dry season but still a thousand times better the concrete jungles that Phnom Penh is becoming.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WWF Report on the Status of the Banteng and more

This is for me mostly - to keep as a reference... But

Here is a link to a summary of the report of from the World Wildlife Fund for Nature about the banteng that they conducted in 2011.

And here is a video showing a Cambodian news report of the Banteng Status in Cambodia.  And another, this time a long report from CTN (Cambodian Television Network) with a more detailed analysis of the situation for the Banteng.  Finally a photo essay showing some of the challenges that Wildlife Conservation Society is facing in the North East as they protect the forest there.

Did you know that July 31 was World Ranger Day?  I didn't know that there was a World Ranger Day but there is.  So there you are!

Hunter Gatherers

Ben has been camping in the forest for the last ten or so days while the first building is going up.  Right now, the posts are all up.  The long beams between the posts are on.  The up and down pieces are attached to those and the "plan" (that is the Khmai word for the horizontal bits of wood that you nail the tin onto) are being nailed on.  After that goes on, then the roof.  You can tell I'm not a builder - I don't even know the English words for all these pieces.  I'm not sure that Ben does either because he always uses the Khmer words which I can't remember.
He has had about 2-4 helpers out there with him.  Some have started clearing hiking trails.  The rest helping out with the building.  And then one of them usually stops work early and makes the meal for everyone.
Ben has been telling me lately how we really don't need to have a garden when you live out there.  Today he said we don't even need to buy anything from the shops.  This morning he called me and said they had caught about a kilogram of perch.  This is exciting for everyone because they have all pretty much run out of food stocks.  Ben had taken out a bunch of dried beans and they are almost used up.  His helpers don't seem to like his beans.  They'd prefer to eat rice and salt.  He had given his workers an advance of money so they could buy food to take out there for themselves, but that just meant they bring a tiny bit of dried something - so it had long since run out.  But every day they gather leaves.  They hunt for various kinds of protein (you don't really want to know what these are) and of course they have the rice they brought from home.  Today they had the fish, with some sour green leaves.  Yesterday they ate rattan shoots and the day before that bamboo shoots.
So, if we can learn to identify all these good greens, when we move out there we should never be in need of vegetables.  I think I still want a garden however.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Spotted - Three Banteng

Report on the Banteng
By Amelie Davis

Daddy was in the forest today looking for snares.  He saw three banteng bulls (Bos burmanicus).  Two of them ran into the forest, the third bull stayed but as they went towards it, it then trotted away.

A banteng is a type of wild cow.  They are like domestic cows except they are wild.  A banteng can weigh 400 to 900 kilograms.  The banteng legs always have white socks which reach the knee.  They also have a white rear end.

In the world, they estimate that the number of banteng is 5,000 to 8,000.  In Cambodia from 1960 to 1990 the population reduced by 90 percent.  The banteng has been classified as endangered since 1996 on the IUCN Redlist.  In 2011, World Wildlife Fund said that there were 2,700 to 5,000 banteng estimated in Cambodia.

The baneng are suffering from loss of habitat that land concessions have been taken for rubber plantations, and other agriculture.  Banteng are also suffering from hunting in their dryland forest home.

We hope that people will stop hunting banteng inside this new community forest and it will hopefully be protected from agricultural land concessions which are destroying the banteng's habitat.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Jumping Caterpillars

It has been a long time since we made any installments on this blog.  Ben went to Nepal so all work stopped out at the Forest.  It was a very unfortunate time to go as it was a lovely dry July and the rice farmers did not have enough rain to start planting.  Naturally as soon as he returned, the rains started and all his potential helpers were no longer available.  So instead he got to stay home with us which we all enjoyed.  Last week he went to the mountain and camped for two nights.  The river and mud hole outside the village were too much of an obstacle to traverse with a loaded pickup so he parked that in the village and hiked out.

With no tools and only one man he couldn’t do much work so he traipsed around the forest and had a fun time.  The forest is beautiful this time of year, everything so green and pretty.  I want him to write about it but who knows if he’ll get to it but he spotted two troops (??) of leaf monkeys – silver langurs.  He was able to watch them in the trees for quite a time.  The male and leader was most alarmed and annoyed.  Making loud grunting sounds.  They were way up in the trees and photo attempts were not successful.  He does have a recording of the males agitated scolding.  He also came across a herd (now that is the wrong word) of wild pigs.  They were running away luckily and there must not have been a very angry one there otherwise Ben would have had to run up a tree. 

Well, finally the weather cleared up properly and on Monday, he was able to actually drive the pickup out there loaded with all sorts of equipment and materials.  Today I believe he got another post up on the building.  The most interesting thing however was the spotting of these giant caterpillars.   He has about five workers out there with him.  He noticed them jumping away in fright at something.  On investigation, they had found a large caterpillar, about seven inches long the fatness of a thumb (maybe Ben’s thumb which is pretty large as thumbs go).  The workers were terrified of them.  Ben was told that they jump on you and that they can jump about a metre!   But when they tried to make them jump, they refused to perform.  They are the furry kind that usually sting so it wouldn’t be nice to have one jump on you out of the blue!  Being so big as a caterpillar, they must turn into a pretty big butterfly!  They found about three of four of them and they eat leaves from the Chleat tree so maybe he can keep them till they become chrysalises and see what they grow into.  They might just escape in the meantime. 

And that is the story of the jumping caterpillars.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The building has begun!

Ben was finishing up as much as he could before he leaves for Nepal and Base Camp on a little hike.  He managed to finish up the road project at the end of last week, so it should now be passable in the mud and they started the first building.  He is finally onto the fun part of the project.  He camped out in the forest this week with 4 workers from our village here in Rovieng – apparently a vast improvement from sleeping in the village on chicken mite infested mattresses with khmer movies (actually Khmer dubbed Thai soap operas) on till 10pm everynight and and all sorts of other diversions!  They managed to put up two posts and cement them into the ground as well as build a little shelter to sleep in.  They took out about 3 kilograms of fish to eat and the workers foraged in the forest and they ate wild mushrooms and bamboo shoots with their fish.


Here are some pictures of latest “Improvements!”

The corduroy road



The camp




Saturday, June 8, 2013

Barefeet and Thongs

For the last two weeks we have been trying to hastily fix the road before the wet season totally sets in.  While the bridge over the creek is finished, there is about 150 yards of swampland to cross on both sides of the creek which is turning out to be as impossible to negotiate as the river is in the wet season.  We had been negotiating with a construction company for months trying to get them to come help us make a proper gravel road and they had been putting us off, always telling us to wait “one more week.”  Finally the wet season set in and they told us they could do it for us next year!  Yay.  So we have been trying to make the road usable. With little road building equipment to work with, we have been forced to become very creative.  Since we can’t haul gravel, we are using old logs to lay crossways in the road across the swamp and then lay a row of boards to drive that match the width of the tires.  Telling my dad about this, he told me that they used to use that style in the US in swampy areas and it is called “corduroy road.”

At the moment, we are about three fourths finished with that project.  We lay about 30 yards a day, and there is about 250-300 yards total to cover.

Last week we had a big rainstorm all night long and by morning the river had overflowed its banks.  Since I couldn’t take the pickup to work, me and my four workers walked to the bridge site and found our corduroy road under about 50 cm of water.  The actual car bridge was under about 4 meters of water.  At any rate, we didn’t get much work done that day.  Luckily by the next day we could work again as it didn’t rain anymore and the water had gone back down so we could drive across again. 

We have stacks and stacks of lumbar at the building site which we hope to start putting into a “headquarters” very soon.  We took a truckload of old wood from our house in a big old Russian Army truck – call an “Elephant Truck” in Khmer.  The truck left Rovieng at 6 am and arrived to the village about 11 am.  As we approached the mountain, the truck kept getting bogged despite the fact that it had a winch and a 4 wheel drive.  So we kept offloading lumbar along the way in piles until the truck was finally light enough to make it to the mountain.  He only got back to Rovieng at 11 pm that night.  It was a well earned $225 for Mr. Mao.

Since it rains all the time, I have had to trade in my steel toed boots for thongs which I end up tossing straight away and going barefoot for the rest of the day. I think my feet are getting tougher because I walk around barefoot in the thorns and I don’t seem to notice.  The other day, I took a 20 km hike through the jungle in shorts and thongs.  Which I only thought Australians knew how to do. 

Last week we said good bye to Savuth.  I was very grateful for his 3 months of help and support.  I think I worked him half to death because he went back to Phnom Penh and spent the next three days in bed with the flu.  Thank you Savuth!!

If the nice dry weather holds I’ll be able to finish the road next week and start working on the headquarters.    We’ll see.

The road immersed

Future site for the Lodge