Wednesday, January 20, 2010

That's traveling!

6 - 12 January 2010
Ok, I need to think back a bit, but I can't move on without telling you about the last week of my trip in Cambodia.

After finding back my passport, eager to move on, I took the bus the very next morning to Kratie, where I would stop over on my way up North. People had told me Kratie had not much to offer, but when I arrived i was pleasantly surprised. I arrived in the late afternoon, just in time to take a moto out to the boats to see the rare Irrawaddy dolphins swim in the Mekong river. It was beautiful seeing the sun set over the river, and hearing the dolphins pop up now and then close to the boat. I didn't really get a good picture of them, but did manage to get (yet another) beautiful sunset foto.

The bus from Kratie to Banlung was what I had hoped for: over-crowded, full of rice bags, chickens on the roof, crying and naked children and karaoke music. I was on a local bus!! Although 2 hours too late to pick me up, we made good time, and at 7 pm I got to Banlung.
I had heard about Tree Top Eco Lodge from an Australian bar-owner in Kratie, where a moto-taxi took me as soon as I arrived. The sun had already set, so I couldn't really see all the details yet, but the wooden staircase to my wooden bungalow (for only 3 dollars a night) looked promising. I met up and shared a room with Rachel, who I had met in Phnom Penh. She was playing cards with 2 guys, Nathan and Patrick, with who we soon decided to do a 3 day trek through the national park.

Waking up the next morning, I wasn't expecting to see the beautiful surroundings of the lodge, hidden away in the greaan mountains, overlooking a valley and some houses hidden between the foliage, what a great place! The lodge itself is equally beautiful, with wooden bungalows, stairs, tables and chairs, and the owners' 3 smart little kids (aged 2, 3 and 4) running around, and hiding peoples shoes.

In the morning we arranged a 3 day, 2 night eco-trek with Mr. Smiley for the following day. The rest of the day we spent riding around on motorbikes, swimming in the kraterlake and standing under a waterfall, fantastic!!
The day of the trek we were picked up by our drivers who took us on a 2 hour motorbikeride over dusty, sandy, bumpy, curvy, narrow and low paths to our destination: the forests of Virachey National Park. Mr. Smiley and the park ranger, Mr. Ohm, were carrying all our supplies for the coming days, we were carrying our rucksacks, hammocks and water.

The hike itself was ok, although not as jungly as we had imagined. The trees were massive and the forest and colours beautiful, crossing streams over fallen trees, peeing behind bushes, drinking water from cut open vynes, boiling stream water on fires, all of it it was great.
But the most fun was at night when we had to put up our hammocks. The first night our camping spot had already been taken by other campers, quite a bummer, we were hoping to be the only group in the park. So Mr. Smiley, being as positive as ever, told us not to worry, we would have a new camp in no-time, all that was needed was some good trees to hang our hammocks from. Soon, as the sun was setting swiftly, we heard the chopping and falling down of trees around us. Kind of strange, this being an eco trip... Borrowing our headlamps Mr. Ohm and Mr. Smiley took quite few hours building us the construction to support 6 hammocks. After a few times dropping to the ground and killing some trees to construct it, it finally held all of us. We were really tired after the long day and weren't at all in the mood for the homemade whiskey Mr. Smiley had brought along, off to bed for us!

The hammocks had built-in musquito-nets which you zip up over your head, like a little cucoon you then hang in your hammock. It was kind of chilly , but falling asleep and waking up to those forest-sounds was amazing. In the morning we heard some more chopping, and before we knew it Mr. Ohm was handing us our morning coffee in our new bamboo cups.

The second night was more of a succes, we even drank most of the whiskey and told stories around the campfire. I think I was the last one to get into the hammock, having stayed up a bit looking at the fire and chatting with Nathan. As I lay there, I heard a slow creeking sound and all of a sudden we all dropped to the ground. Getting out I found Mr. Smiley kind of crushed between a big wooden trunk and half his nail torn off. But, even though it was passed midnight and he was in much pain, he rushed off to fix our hammock construction for us. He climed trees, cut down vynes, made ropes, tied it all together, and withinh half an hour we were sound asleep again. It was pretty cool actually.

At the end of our trek, after walking hours in the full sun, we traveled back to Banlung on the back of a truck, very sandy, dusty, bumpy and windy, but alot of fun! Looking forward to my next trek!

1 comment:

  1. Hi lieve Saff! Wat leuk om je verhalen te lezen en foto's te zien. Te gek hoor, heel veel plezier nog! En thanks voor je kaartje, zo leuk! Kreeg deze gisteren, maar Kerst en O&N was zeker leuk :-) Heel veel liefs Tam