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.