Jim, Lisa and the World
A trip of global proportions
About Us (2)
Costa Rica (2)
New Zealand (11)
* The heat in Southern Vietnam
* The Mekong Delta
* Our passage into Vietnam
* The Temples of Angkor
* Eastern Cambodia by motorcycle...and elephant
* The Killing Fields
* Kings Cross Car Market
* The Red Center
* Cruising and Noodling
* The Great Ocean Road
* Melbourne part II
* Up the Coast
* Capital Good Times
* Missy the Beasty
* The Seperation of Wife and Mate
* Rugby, Navigation and Magellen
* It's a small world after all!
* Free! Free Falling!
June 08, 2005
Eastern Cambodia by motorcycle...and elephant
June 1st Jim and I set out from the Okay Guesthouse in Phnom Penh with our guide Sokun. We had rented two motorcycles...dirt bikes to be honest. We wrapped our two small bags in plastic bags and tied them down with bungee cords to the backs of the bikes. We were off. Heading into the wild east of Cambodia.
Now, keep in mind that Jim had learned to drive the big bikes just the day before, and now he was thrown straight into city traffic. This means hundreds of mopeds, bikes, motorcycles, and the occasional car traveling every which way on the road, constantly beeping and turning right in front of you...
Small homes were built in clusters along the road. All of a similar style. It was fun to be on the back of the bike, to be able to watch the goings-on around me. People tending to their cows, or water buffalo, carrying water, picking rice, or relaxing in the midday heat in their hammocks.
Our first day we drove around 300 Km. This may not seem far, but with these road conditions, the heavy afternoon rain and a flat tire (fixed in 20 min. for a total of .50 cents), we didnít arrive at our destination until 7 PM. For the last 2 hours, my mind was going crazy, I was concocting schemes to be able to get off of the back of the bike. My knees were killing me, stuck in a bent position, and my butt and legs were suffering from a severe lack of blood flow.
We had arrived in another world. The province of Ratnakuri, the town of San Remel, just 30 km from the Vietnam border. We woke the second morning a bit stiff, and headed out to a large waterfall 50 km from town. It was a beautiful drive through the jungle. We spent the day swimming under waterfalls and climbing up the sides of them.
The next morning we headed out to the village of (what they call) minority people. These are people who have always lived in the jungles and for most, Khmer (the language here) is their second language. We had a chance to meet a few of the families who lived there, some were drying their tobacco in front of their homes, which when dry, they roll up in a leaf and smoke.
After visiting for about 2 hours a man came barreling out of the jungle on an elephant. This was to be our afternoon activity. They strapped a basket to the elephants back, guided him to a high platform and from there we stepped on his head (supposedly doesn't hurt) and threw ourselves into the rickety basket. Their elephant, Shiwa was 98 years old and his grandfather had bought her as a baby. As soon as we started moving, I realized that the IDEA of riding an elephant is much more romantic than the reality of it. I was convinced that the basket was going to fall off with every thunderous step he took. By the time we were heading back to the village, I was able to relax a bit and put a little trust in the bamboo that was holding us 15 ft. in the air, on the back of an elephant. What a great experience! (Can't see myself doing it again)
We eventually headed back toward Pnhom Penh. We stopped for 2 days in Kratie. This is where some of the worlds only freshwater dolphins live, right in the Mekong River. We "chartered' a boat to take us to see the dolphins, we found a pod of about 40 and they put on quite a show for us!
Our second day in Kratie our guide, Sokun took us to see an old pagoda called the Temple of 100 columns. There we were fortunate enough to meet a group of men in the temple. These men are in their 80's and 90's and most of them have been helping to maintain the temple for many years. With much help from our fabulous guide/interpreter, we spent almost two hours talking with these men. They were happy to be able to talk to us, and were very open in sharing their lives with us. One of them was trying to practice his French with us as they had all learned French while in primary school (early 50's) because the French controlled Cambodia until 1953. They told us of the three wars that have taken place in their lifetimes, famine, drought and also of their families and their happiness in maintaining the temple. One had been a monk for many years and he took us around the temple telling us the Khmer (Cambodian) story of Buddhism, using the vibrant paintings on the walls. It was a magical afternoon.
We had decent weather all the way. It was generally sunny in the mornings and there tended to be a nice rain in the afternoons, which helped to cool things off a bit. The heat and humidity make us sweat like crazy...I feel like such a beast in tank-tops and skirts sweating profusely, standing next to the Cambodians in pants and long sleeves who are completely comfortable. :-)
Posted by Jim & Lisa on June 8, 2005 12:43 AM
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