in back of the restaurant at a rest stop on the way to kratie (where we stopped for one night before continuing to ban lung), i discovered a great rice-drying-in-the-sun photo op.
the bus from kratie to ban lung. people sat on stools in the aisles.
my friend raphael took this photos, astounded as he was of the amount of people jammed into the bus. i was thinking that compared to, say, india or guatemala, this was really nothing.
the red dirt road--it would become ubiquitous for the next two weeks.
darat, our guide for our jungle trek in ratanakiri
me on the back of the moto on the first leg of our three-day jungle trek
the river we had to cross to get to the village to get to the jungle
the ferry we will take across the river
the guy is carrying the world's most interesting manpurse...
the road from the river to the village from which we would walk to the jungle. much of it was sand, and darat, who drove us both on the same moto, drove very, very fast.
the village, whose exact name we never quite got
darat, our guide, leading us into the jungle
i'm smiling, which means this was before i got miserable from walking in the heat with my backpack on.
we stopped at our other (local) guide's house and met his family
our guide's mother
and wife and father
i love this one.
most interesting bug award
crossing a bridge
we learned that the locals burn holes in these trees to extract the sap inside, which is very sticky and can be used as glue, and is also flammable so is used for fuel.
the sticky flammable stuff
raphael and his walking stick
more interesting flora
five hours of walking so we could reach the waterfall the first day...
and yes, this was the waterfall. it's dry season. unfortunately. we'd been so looking forward to getting to bathe, but...what water was there had been there quite a while and was too disgusting to even think of bathing in.
water like this--murky and buggy
setting up the 'kitchen'
all our stuff for dinner preparation
here's where we camped. these hammocks are u.s. military. but reading some of the print on them, i decided they must be knockoffs.
the next day we walked to the *other* waterfall...
which wasn't much of a waterfall either.
dry season, remember. so...no bathing for us.
world's biggest ant!
our two guides--he of the unknown name and darat
we came upon some men climbing up *really* high on this tree. we didn't see anyone else in the jungle the entire time there.
we were not sure what they were getting from the tree, however.
but they had this great contraption they'd made to allow them to go all the way to the top.
some of the guys involved in the tree-climbing. well, they were more the 'waiting-at-the-bottom team.
another bridge, this time across a little river in a small village we stopped at for lunch. interestingly, right before the bridge we spotted a white guy in a hut. turned out to be an aussie wildlife biologist there with his american colleague. they were counting tigers (tigers?!) in order to get the land classified as a protected habitat.
where there is a river you will find kids playing in it, of course.
making lunch across the road from one of the few huts we actually saw in this village
the road to the river (which was more of a stream, really)
yeah, it was pretty much a stream. i took a walk in it, hoping to find a private place to take my shirt off and rinse it and put it back on wet (ahhhh, how good that would feel. we were unbelievably hot and sweaty from walking for two days.). but no luck. the father of one of the three families that appeared to live there was doing laundry.
back at the original village, where we would spend the night, we met a pig who i immediately christened fatso. have you ever seen such a fat pig in your life? (i know they have a reputation and all, but...fatso clearly beats 'em all, hooves down.)
first i thought maybe she was pregnant, but...could she be when she'd clearly had some piglets not that long ago. i mean, i don't know much about pig biology but...
During Fatso's photo session, this kid decided he had to be in not just this but all of my photos. He was adorable, and more of a ham (Oh wow....seriously, that pun was NOT intended!) than anyone I've met here thus far. In general, Cambodians, especially children, tend to shy away from cameras.
yeah, total ham.
this poor little puppy. clearly so young it should have been nursing and not eating rice. they kept it on top of a table so it never got to run around. when i put it on the ground it was so happy to scamper about and then inevitably someone would come along and put it back on the table.
evening came and we lit a candle and got out some cards.
we camped (note the camo hammock) back at the original village although this really wasn't part of the trek. it was just that we were so unhappy with it that we asked to speed through the second day so we could just sleep in the village and get back as early as possible the next morning.
mr. big man
just couldn't get the girl in the middle to keep her eyes open for any of the pics.
while i went off with darat to eat dinner with one of the families (well, the man. the woman just picked at the food after she cleared our dishes away...), raf played cards with some of the men. or, probably, he watched them play cards.
one card was missing from my deck in the morning when i packed it up and i'm pretty sure this girl was the culprit. don't ask me why. eight of spades. souvenir of our visit, perhaps. or she just threw it away, no doubt on the ground, where it joined all the other playing cards strewn about for no apparent reason in this country.
this little girl was so adorable but i could never look at her, because as soon as she saw me (and this only happened with me), she would burst out crying...
bye bye, unnamed village!
on the road again... you can see why the dirt didn't come out of my clothes or off my body for many days.
Something about the juxtaposition here really struck me...
Yes, I am now collecting these ads (does two a collection make?). "Kid doesn't want to eat breakfast? No problem. Give him a vitamin...this one's got lysine!" So...lysine is a major nutrient found in pork products—along with saturated fat, cholesterol and nitrates...yay! I have to say, I don't blame that kid for not wanting to eat that entire plate of dodgy-looking breakfast meat. Next thing he'd need would be anti-cholesterol pills! [And now I must mention here that when I googled that, trying to remember the brand name of those pills, I found <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/audio/2008/jul/09/children.cholesterol.statins">this most intriguing article</a>. Perhaps I was not that far off, then. Of course, that's American-brand insanity, not Cambodian.]
After we got back from the trek we rested a while and then went to a crater lake, Boeng Yeak Loam.
I was hoping this monk would go swimming, but...no such luck. This crater lake was quite lovely, however, and I most certainly did go swimming. Along with all of the Cambodians with their clothes on. Which is how everyone swims here. No such thing as bathing suits; you just go in wearing whatever you're wearing. One fully clothed woman sitting on the dock next to me put her brown arm next to my lily-white thigh—which never sees the sun except when I'm swimming (for which I don board shorts and a yoga top...trying to dress in attire slightly more modest than your average Western bathing suit but still not diving in in my street clothes)—and just laughed and laughed.
the kids, of course, can always be counted upon to be swimming wherever there's water.
most people in cambodia (and all of the countries i've been to in southeast asia thus far) swim fully clothed.
This frog was my favorite of all the uninvited guests at my bungalow at the Tree Tops Lodge. Usually you just get geckos and various other types of lizards (cute), ants (less cute and, when they're on your bed, damned annoying) and mosquitoes (Must. Die.).
i believe i've previously mentioned how useful rubber bands can come in when traveling in the developing world. here is one example: keeping the plug in sockets that are often mysteriously too big and the plug falls right out. (this is to plug my laptop in so i could sit and write in the hammock on the veranda of my bungalow, by the way.)
view from tree tops lodge
after the trek, we moved to the lakeview lodge. this is the balcony, where we sat and read literally an entire day.
after our day of rest, we rented bikes to visit some of the waterfalls around town.
warning to frogs: dangerous road crossing
raf didn't do it, i swear! the evidence is purely circumstantial.
descending the stairs to kaichaan waterfall
when we arrive there were a bunch of local ladies having their daily bath (in sarongs) in the waterfall. they were then replaced by a few younger women doing laundry.
always time to stop to answer a cellphone call, of course, no matter where you are or what you're doing.
the look on my face was exactly how i felt...aaahhhhhh.
raphael braves the waterfall.
and then it was my turn...
view from the top of the waterfall...on its way down.
another view from above
...this time with a rainbow
trying to capture a rainbow on film is like...
getting to and from the edge was actually quite slippery and dangerous.
at katieng waterfall, a random shrine
my foot, after biking from kichaan waterfall to ka tieng waterfall
just in case you missed any of the dirt on my leg...
raf took these, walking around before he went in and under it.
rafael decided to go under this waterfall. i decided to stay behind and be official photographer. we heard it was harder than the previous and too deep to stand. hence my decision to be official photographer.
yes, the water was so strong you could barely see raphael. in fact, in some photos i took you couldn't actually see him at all.
the look on his face defnitely didn't change my mind about going...
raphael is under there, believe it or not.
after several members of this picture-happy family insisted i pose in photographs with them, i decided to request a photo of my own. group shot: mia and random cambodian family in whose photographs she now also appears. it even looks like we dressed to match each other! (note i am the only one with dry clothing.)
first the monkey grabbed my hat. no, first i felt awful that this place we stopped to eat lunch outside the waterfull had a tiny monkey chained up to a tree.
just when i wrested my hat from him, the monkey got my sunglasses. and started biting them, of course.
it was a serious challenge to get my glasses back. that damned monkey was fast. (and yes, i'm ashamed to admit it, but i did lose just a tiny bit of my sympathy for him after i became his victim...)
the evidence: monkey teeth marks
a few days later the glasses broke. coincidence? i think not. there was a lot of pulling involved in my struggle with the monkey. but, alas, as you can see, my victory was a pyrrhic one.
'monkey v. dog' was how our lunch companions described this...
but really it was just friendly playing. and when it wasn't, it was familial nitpicking.
monkey of course took out a moment or two to examine something on his own foot.
back to work.
back to play
and a nice refreshing drink to cool off.
freshly 'squeezed' sugar cane juice, in fact. we had the same after our lunch.
as dad took photos on his phone, i snapped a few in the background.
such a cutie!
riding the dirt roads all day long to reach the waterfalls definitely had an impact. our skin was a different color by the time we got back.
at a rest stop on the way from ban lung to kratie: 'Les't keep our bathroom!'
note that this is the girls' bathroom they want to keep too.