We arrived in Ban Lung hot, tired and already getting coated in the orange red dust - it was 7pm we had no guesthouse and it was chinese new year (still!)
. No problem though we were met my Mr Thea, his guesthouse had just opened, it wasn't in the lonely planet (a good thing for us) and was cheap! We set up base there and ate some lovely mountain beef (like BBQ at the table) across the road. Everything closed up and had shut down by 10pm - so did we! The next day we hired a bike and explored with Nick and Lisa for Oz. We stopped Boem Lak (we've chucked our cambodia LP so I cant remember how to spell these places!). A volcanic crater lake and had a lovely swim we then went on to Katien waterfall and messed around in it before heading back to town. We decided to do a two day jungle trek and on Monday Tom and I set off with Mr Thea (our guide and guesthouse manager) and Reo from Japan. Within half an hour Tom and I had decided trekking wasnt for us (2 wheels good, 2 legs bad!) we were boiling hot, sweating and really tired - we were so dissapointed in ourselves - we should've loved it! I think it was the fact that we had to tackle a MASSIVE hill first! Once we had spoken about it we settled into the trek and started to enjoy ourselves. We walked through community forest - where local minority people live in and off the jungle. We met with a 'ranger' - 21 year old lad from a local village who knew the area well and walked at a crazy pace! My 2 hour history walks across Wanstead Flats was nothing compared to this! Mind you his health and safety talk at the beginning was none existant! That afternoon we set up camp next to a river - camp consisted of hammocks with mosi nets and a fire
. Mr Thea started on dinner as we swam in the river and then Tom tried to catch freshwater shrimp for our curry - he got 5, using only his hands...they were very nice too! It got dark at 6pm so there wasn't much to do apart from try to spot the noisy frogs and hunt for glo-worms. We were all asleep by 8pm. I can't say it was the best nights sleep I've had, but I did get some sleep! More trekking the next day - not much in the way of wildlife some crazy bird calls but everything else was scared off by our ranger (I don't think there was much there to start with!) - he had a little transistor radio he was trying to listen to but it didn't have an arieal. We stopped at a minority village and Tom the electrician spotted some cable on the floor and fixed his radio for him - he didn't speak any english but he was very happy! We made it back to the motorbikes at lunchtime (someone put a massive hill at the end as well!) where Tom got a marrige proposal from a lady at a shop! Then we went into the Krueng minority village where the people live a very simple but happy life working the land. The single women over 16 have to sleep in seperate little houses-try that in england!! On the way back to town we stopped at Mr Thea's family restaurant for a lovely lunch and we got to try baby birds! They are actually duck embryos not chicken and the one that was just a big yolk was quite nice. The one that was more developed and was actually a baby duck was horrid! I dont know why everyone (local) gets excited about them
! We are really pretending they are nice in the photos!!
Mr Thea has taught himself english, just from working with tourists and he can not write it so we decided to help him out and typed up a sheet on all the different tours and trips he does. It cost us $1 and 1 hour of our time - hopefully it will bring him a bit more business. I thought that would mean we were way up in the karma stakes and good things would flood to us....on the minibus to the Lao border a Cambodian lady puked all over my rucksack, actually all over my fleece tied to the front!
We have loved Cambodia. The people have been so friendly, we've had some amazing experiences. It's hard to believe we've only been here for 18 days - it seems a lot longer! That just means more time to enjoy Lao!!
So we got into an overcrowded minibus and headed to Ban Lung in the province of Rattanikiri in NE Cambodia. The last three hours of the journey was a dusty, bumpy road that the local girl sat next to us was amazed at - it had been improved since she had last gone home. I hate to think what it was like before! The aircon was turned off as it would've just spat dust in our faces and the net curtain did little to stop the heat of the sun streaming through the window. Sleep was impossible and death a real possibility as cars roared past leaving us surrounded in a cloud of dust only for motorbikes to come whizzing out towards us. The rainforest around us had been slashed and burnt for farming - not very nice to see. I dont know how they control the fires - they can't if we can't even stop Epping Forest from burning and we have fire engines! The wooden stilt houses looked very vunerable!