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.