So after an amazing day in the company of elephants, we settled down in our jungle dwelling. Seven hammocks radiated out from a central pole, each padded out with cosy blankets. But with the sun only just setting we had plenty of entertainment before turning in. Our hosts showed us how they cooked soup in a bamboo cane, taught us some dubious but entertaining card games and plied us with rice wine (“you lose, you deal, you drink!”). A memorable evening was had by all.
The next day, our guide was up at the crackle dawn, no hangover in sight. While we were served some epic sized pancakes, he was seen whittling away in the background. Just before we departed on our trek, we each received a hand carved bamboo shot glass. A fitting memento of the previous evening.
On our way through the jungle our guide regaled us with tales. He told us about the tracks we were on and how villagers knew them off by heart despite no signs. Stories about how tribes in the area sourced materials from the jungle in a sustainable manner. Pointed out fruits, plants, herbs, roots and animal tracks. His knowledge was wonderful and we felt very lucky that his English was so good too. Not for the first time on our trip, we felt a touch guilty for having picked up so little of the local language, considering the efforts many people go to in learning English.
The dense jungle alternated with vast fields of crops and grass land, the odd hunters shelter scattered here and there. It was a gorgeous day, puffy clouds littering the blue sky and our group was in high spirits. Happily we racked up the kilometers under foot, knowing that some treats were in store. What treats you ask?
BBQs by jungle lakes
Amazing waterfalls and plunge pools
Swimming in river rapids
I’ll never do justice to the experiences of that day by typing so I’ll let the photos do the talking. Suffice to say at the end of the trip, as we bid farewell to our guide and his family, it was with heavy hearts. Those 48hrs with the Mondulkiri Project will go down as some of the most special moments, not just of this trip, but our lives.
Thank you to Mr Tree and everyone who makes the project such a wonderful experience.