Off the Tourist Trail

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
Trip End May 30, 2013

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Where I stayed
Sen Moronem Guest House

Flag of Cambodia  , Kaôh Kŏng,
Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chi Phat. A small sidebar note in the Lonely Planet 'offering a unique opportunity to explore the Cardamom Mountains for hardy travellers'. Well, MY interest was peaked!

A place that used to be extensively logged and poached, Chi Phat was it's base. Now with a
community centred eco-tourism project, we can help contribute to the preservation of the environment. The Cardamon's are the largest stretch of untouched rainforest in mainland SE Asia and one of only 7 natural elephant corridors left, as well as home to 16 endangered mammals including Asian Elephant and Indochinese Tiger (although I don't think we'll see any of them).

So what kind of 'hardy travellers' were we? First we needed to find a bus to Andoung Tuek, which I heard was a bridge. No bus actually goes to Andoung Tuek, but you can take a bus to Phnom Penh and get off along the way.  Unfortunately, there is no ticket price for a partial journey, and we had to pay the full fare to Phnom Penh. We knew the journey would be approximately 2 hours, and the man we bought the ticket off of assured us that he would let the driver know to drop us off in Andoung Tuek. So we sat back and became immersed in the sappy
romantic music videos on the bus. Around the 2 hour mark, Brian happened to look out the window iin time to see a sign flash for the Andoung Tuek Bridge (thank goodness this one had an English translation!). The bus was not slowing as we flew over the water. I awkwardly made my way up to the front of the bus asking 'Andoung Tuek?' Upon confirmation, the bus driver stopped and dumped us out onto the side of the road, alone.

Walking back towards the bridge, I started to have 2nd thoughts. There was nothing around
except a few roadside stands selling snacks. The next bus to Phnom Penh would not be for another 3 hours, and we didn't want to go to Phnom Penh. Supposedly, in Andoung Tuek we could take a boat or taxi to Chi Phat, but with only the 2 of us on the road, I didn't see much
demand. Soon we were accosted by a couple of guys driving motorbikes (where DO they come from?), and after a furious complication of currency (still hadn't figured out the 4000:1 US dollar ratio), we were flying down a dusty dirt road on the backs of 2 different bikes!

What a wonderful way to travel with the wind in your hair! The scenery was gorgeous and
every once in awhile we could catch a glimpse of rain-forrested mountains. During the 40 minute ride, we saw only 2 other mopeds, 3 people walking and one person on bicycle. By the end, we were completely covered in a fine red dust from the roads.

Stopped by the riverside, we loaded ourselves onto a barge (the floating one beside the sunken one) and paid our 25 cent fee to cross. We then began to wander through a village of ramshakle huts covered in rusting corrugated metal siding and roofs. Soon we found the CBET office and
a warm welcome and some good Khemer food and we were all set to enjoy our stay in Chi Phat.

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Danny on

How did you find an internet connection in this remote place? :)

2totango on

well, i posted AFTER we'd been there, but there was still internet!

As i said earlier: no indoor plumbing, no ATM's, electricity from batteries charged from generators available only 4 hours a day, but high speed internet? No problem! Walking through the mountains with our guide while he texted his family was also curious :)

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