Sunday, February 2, 2014

What's Happening

It has been awhile and things are moving so slowly here I feel there is not too much to report on.  Ben has been working hard.  The most difficult issue at the moment has been the constant influx of loggers from all over.  Chainsaws operate in the night time (and sometimes in the day) and so if he has some of the village Community Forest (CF) committee willing to do a night time patrol, they head out to look for these guys.  The wood is being sold to big trucks that export to the a country on the east of Cambodia.  There is lots in the Phnom Penh Post  if you do a search on "logging, Preah Vihear" about this issue and it is somewhat "annoying" to put it mildly.  Yesterday, they were out hiking and they came across a "ko eu-uan" with wood.  No one around.  They confiscated (hid it in the bushes really) a chain block that they had and in the process, Ben lost his camera.  So today they return, looking for the camera.  They passed 5 ox-carts and 2 drivers so about 3 others off somewhere else.  They said that they had bought resin trees (Diptocarp) from another village and were I guess going to cut them and take them (back to Siem Reap province).  However, they later came across the other men with axes and other implements.  The latest method is to use the old fashioned way with axes, then squaring up the logs with this implement called a "duong" and hauling them with oxcarts.  Slow, but silent.  Less chance of being caught.
The camera was found by the way!

Below are some pictures from December of what the problem is.  This is Pterocarpus macrocarpus Kurz wood (otherwise knows as Thnong in Khmer or a type of rosewood).  These three "ko eu-uans" were surprised coming around the corner.

Enough about logging.  Well actually, a problem with all the logging has been that the people that Ben would otherwise be hiring to saw up his wood have been busy.  He has asked them to make boards out of this timber which people cut earlier in the year for their land claiming activities.  They must cut the trees in order to claim the land after which they sell the land or just hang onto it.  The particular land is not really any good for agriculture but cut they must.  And so as we drive into the village, and to the north of Ta Bos, we see swaths of felled timber, soon to be burned - because, that is what they do.  This timber is good hardwood.  Not beautiful like the rosewood that is being exported but it is a good, durable hardwood.  And since it is just laying wasted, waiting for the fires, Ben has asked the chainsaw people to cut it for him.  But they are so busy.  In the last couple of weeks, he managed to have some finished and transported - almost enough to floor the building that we are supposed to be moving into.  Almost, but not quite.

So, in waiting for the wood, Ben finished off the water system.  This is quite impressive.  Over one kilometer of pipe has been laid - some buried, and some not, due to the very, very hard and rocky ground.  It starts just below the spring on the side of the mountain.  I'm not the best to explain this but at the head (as I understand!), they put in a ring (or two) with sand around and the pipe coming from the centre of the ring. This means that the sand filters the water before entering the pipe.  This is in a sort of waterhole made by the spring.  At the end of the pipe, water is flowing non stop.  He put three lengths of pipe up in the air to see how high it would push, and it was still bursting out the top.  Great pressure and maybe still a lot of head left. This is exciting as the garden has also been started and now there is running non stop water for our irrigation needs.. and household needs... and our swimming pool (another story there).
Yes, the garden.  We hired some women from the village to help clear a patch of land which is all overgrown vine from a blowdown tree.  It is a lovely sunny patch with really good (relatively good I should say).  These ladies worked really hard slowly whittling away the vines and brush for burning.  We have planted a few fruit trees and hopefully soon a vege patch so there will be more food to eat.

Our volunteer, Alex from Brisbane, via Avondale College, has left!  He toughed it out and survived on Ben's diet of beans and rice, somehow.  He took a lot of time to memorise about 1000+ words in khmer, an amazing feat and hopefully he can remember then when he comes back next.  Thank you Alex!

And, about a week after Alex left, another enthusiastic helper arrived from Sydney.  Jamie is currently out in the forest with Ben also living on beans and rice.  He can show Ben up in pull ups, so Ben is trying to out-hike him I think!

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