Friday, May 10, 2013

After the bridge

Now the bridge is finished Ben has been trying to work on the other side – the road.  To do the road he needed an excavator.  We don’t have an excavator.  He was wanting to contract one and there was one nearby – but not immediately nearby.  The other complicating issues were that the rains have been waiting just at the door – ready to burst in, and also that our project was just not that big.  We wanted to spend about $5000 to repair the road, build up the dam walls (I think that is what it was) and to dig a swimming pool (yes!).  All together it wasn’t a huge project – especially as Ben wanted to just do key bad spots in the road and not a major road build.  His friends who own all the necessary equipment were just next door – about 10km away but they were waiting for the rain so that they had an excuse to say no.  It rained last Saturday – and so Ben got a call soon after saying, sorry, but he couldn’t come. 

So no contractors. No excavator.  No good road – this year at least.  The next idea is to get piles of river gravel.  Then to pile them at the bad spots.  Then to make ruts and fill the ruts in with the gravel.  That should work, you think?  Also on the plan now is to buy a winch. 

The rains last Saturday made this next little project fun.  Ben has been collecting wood over the last few years.  Any downed or dead tree he has found, he has had sawed up and the boards stored under our house or in our yard.  Not all the trees obviously but lots.  Enough for a truckload of wood to fit into a large truck.  One of our friends has one of these large many-wheeled-drive trucks with a huge winch.  He wasn’t too worried about the trip.  On Tuesday, they loaded the truck up with all the spare wood, one of the sheds that we had in our yard taken apart (for easy reassembling on site so that Ben will have a tool shed right away), and some tin we had purchased a while back.  On Wednesday, he left early in the morning.  Things were fine to the village but by the river, the Saturday rains and the heavy load finally took its toll and the river banks were soft!  Only by 7pm had they unloaded the truck (at about 3 locations – to lighten the load to get out of bogs), and were back at the village and could finally eat (lunch or dinner). They all were very tired and I think the guy will think twice before helping us again!

So now Ben has his wood.  He is planning on building the first building which will be temporary accommodation for us and anyone helping out.  We probably can’t move our house out there until the dry season.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Preah Khan or Bakang Temples, Songkom Thmei District

Very close to the village of Ta Bos is the Angkorian temple complex of Preah Khan.  It is quite an impressive series of temples and I haven't visited them all.  We went for the first time there in 2002 when we first started working in Rovieng.  We had three volunteers who helped us out in setting up the office and before they left we took them out there.  It was a very rough road and we got bogged a few times - and this was in February (dry season!)  Eventually found the place and explored all the tumbled down temple structures.  We didn’t have a digital camera then – can’t even remember if we had a camera at all – so I have no pictures of that first trip.  We didn't go back there again until just last year, when another of our volunteers at Jombok Hoas, Phil, was leaving.  We went together with the Jombok Hoas team and had a picnic out there.  It is a world away from the temples of Siem Reap.  The road out there has improved dramatically.  A newly graded laterite road – 30 kilometers – takes you from the district town to the temples.  There were tourist guards even – collecting money from foreigners.  They even had official looking receipts.  I think they wanted something like $5 for each foreigner.

The road is being well maintained.  Built last year, sitting on the side of the road is a number of pieces of heavy road building equipment – an excavator, steam rollers, dump trucks etc.  there just for maintaining the road.. at least for now.

The buildings are in pretty good nic for being in such a remote location.  Having just visited Siem Reap’s temples recently, these are pleasantly, wonderfully empty (of tourists!) so quite easy to get pictures without other unknown people walking across the shot.