From Diary 6 and the Kratie
area, I now
visit the south-eastern corner.
19/1 I enjoy my Kratie breakfast with omelette
and baguette, followed by yoghurt with fruit salad.
I do a short stop in Snoul, which is a red
dust village. Everything from the houses to the dogs are red by the
dust. I do the usual loop around the centre of town, including the
Then the area turns significantly more green - for a
while. The altitude have slowly gone from 20 to 400 metres. Then the
trees are cut down - all of them. It is like the humans are locusts,
shaving the earth to the ground.
Here are huge bamboo, many flowering herbs and bushes
and even a few trails, leading into the forest. Unfortunately, they are
made by loggers, cutting down Mahogany trees. Apparently, they are not
safe in the protected forest.
Then, 20 kilometres before Sen Monorom, the human
destruction starts again. It look like nature, but here use to be
forest. Now it is huge, yellow grass fields and invasive pines. It
actually reminds me so much of the Port Elizabeth area in South Africa.
At two, I reach Sen Monorom. I have thought this would be fare out, and it was a village, but the last kilometres of the road is lined with huge, brand new and posh hotels! It is not Siem Reap, but it give me the same feeling. Unwanted tourists, but also desired good food.
As I drive into town, the fancy hotels vanish, and more basic guesthouses take over in smaller numbers. I find one, which turns out to be a bit too inexpensive. Six dollars and additional two for power to the water heater. After I have paid, I find out the madras is wrapped in plastic under the sheet, and the sink is missing in the bathroom. When I ask for toilet paper, they haven't a clue what I'm all about.
I head out is the large village, searching for proper
food. It seems only one restaurant is aiming for the back-packers, and I
try their jacked potatoes with cheese. It is the first time I have had
"jacked potatoes" which are pealed and slightly cooked! The cheese is a
My first idea of a village turns out to be right. Apparently, the big hotels' guests never get into town. Most of the streets are hardly sealed or defiantly not sealed. I walk some of the trading streets, which are real narrow and almost like a market. Here are dirty, but a lot of smiling faces.
A bit up the hill, I find the local monastery and
graveyard. One of the buildings are open, and I see their gathering of
Back at the diffuse centre of town, I see the market, the main street and a few of those behind. I pass a cafe, and crash a party of French, Belgium and a south Korean guy. Real nice people, and we chat till it get almost dark, and pretty cold. I am aware it should drop seven degrees, but I sure feels cold! It can't be more than 20C, and it is a bit windy.
Back to find my fleece jacket, and then over to the
restaurant to try their burritos.
I though that what I'm served is
called dumplings, but at least, it is meat-, rice- and noodle free. To
make up for that, I go for the apple-pie. But they have no deserts
Back at the hotel, I get my two dollar shower, and start working. The very mixed photos of the day is gathered in one album: Snoul, Seima and Sen Monorom.
20/1 The plan is simple; see the three waterfalls around Sen Monorom. I start with the closet one; Monorom Fall. It is found in some real nice nature, and I start with a walk down the river. Then up through the forest. Here are some interesting bugs like a huge flower tick and a moth who want to look like something else.
The flora are even more interesting with berries, beautiful vines, real strange leaves, Selaginellas up to a meter, huge lilies, many different orchids, epiphytic ferns and plants I haven't a clue about. I head further out through the forest, and perhaps too fare: Suddenly, I step in a elephant dung. I am fare from comfortable with these bully beasts around, and I return. The sun is not really cooperating today, and it start out real windy. I have to use my fleece jacket.
The next fall is Dakdam Waterfall, another ten meter fall in a great location. On the way, I pass some hill-tribe-villages, but I don't find them that different. A bit more pigs, stray huts on the ground, but a lot new things as well, resembling the lowlands.
The fall is right next to the road, and it seems like it falls right into a big hole in the ground. The river disappears under the huge trees downstream. Here are again some interesting plants and huge lianas. I climb to the button of the fall, and end up in the cave behind the fall - slightly wet, pretty dirty.
Then I head into the surounding forests, and find a
enormous lianas, partly on the ground. I have heard the lianas are the
oldest creatures in the forest, and this growth-form supports that
As I gain altitude, the trees vanish, and a more open
bush-land dominates. It use to be forest, but now it is grassing for the
I head on to the last fall, and the GPS have a
shortcut. I do some stops, and one time, the car have lost the spark,
when I returns. Well,
out with the glove-compartment, tingle with the plugs, and the car lives
Back on the road, I drive through large pepper-, sweet potatoe-, rubber- and even coffee plantations. Actually, my new Korean friend is here to buy coffee for Korea. At a village, I finally find the antplants I have been looking for. Unfortunately, they are harvested and for sale as a medicine plant. That is a death-sentence for many species of creatures, and probably why I haven't found any.
The area around the huge Bou Sraa Waterfalls are a picnic area for the locals. Reminds me; I am pretty sure all the fancy hotels outside Sen Monorom is for the rich locals, during the steamy summer months. Then a holyday or weekend getaway to this way colder area will be a treat. And they won't bother going into the town at all!
Here are an entrance fee and a few food and souvenir stands - for the locals. The falls are impressive! The upper one is a vide, steep fall, then a cascade. The lover one is narrower, and around 25 metre high. I try to find my way to the button of it, but fails. Then I head into the forest, but is have been used for years.
Never the less, I do find some orchid species, one
with real huge pseudobulbs and leaves. Here are a Euphorbia that is
almost climbing, fruits on a Araceae and a strange epiphytic fern I have
never seen before.
I'm back in Sen Monorom at five, and find a pizza.
Per-made bottom and a Hawaiian without the ham. Not the great
gastronomic experience, but it beat noodles any day. Tea at the First
and Last and a chat with the Korean guy.
21/1 Breakfast the usual place, where I get a omelette with cheese and bread along with a real tasteful cup of coffee. It is a bit of greyish morning, but I'm heading for the lowlands, and they might be better. And at least warmer!
The first ten kilometres is the same as yesterday, on the way to Bou Sraa Waterfalls, but then I turn north. I was afraid it could be a red dusty gravel-road, but it is a winding, but smooth, rather new sealed road.
The landscape drops evenly, although a few places offers a great view over the lowlands. I soon reach the Sraepok Wildlife Sanctuary, and it is mainly forest, although the locals are aloud to farm. And apparently also cut down trees.
I find an area that have been cut down recently, and all the stems and branches are still there. On them, in what use to be 10-15 metres height, the many orchids are found. Here are at least seven different genera, and probably way more species. I still fail to find "my own" antplants. It is in 365 metres height, and the area is real dry by now.
A bit further down the road, several ponds are dug
for the cattle. They do look nice, although artificial. The road is
lined with two metre tall, yellow grass, and in several places, it is on
A few places, some lovely trees are in full flower,
while the others are partly leaf-less. I do several long walks, but fail
to find anything interesting. The dry season is of cause not the best
time to visit the area - except from it is not pouring down constantly.
At noon, I reach Koh Naehek. It is significantly smaller than I thought, and without any doubt; the most dirty town I have seen. The scattered huts outside town look quite clean, but the dusty streets and especially the area around the "famous ethnical market" is more trash the gods. It is like they never have bothered to remove any trash.
I do a long walk around every corner of the village, and try to find something to eat. I get an ice coffee and finally, I find some bread with honey. After a hour, I am so ready to head on to something cleaner. It is still early, and I had a plan B about heading a bit further up north, to the next village.
I drive out of the town, I see a hitch-hiker with
a sign: Ban Lung. It is Swiss Jolene, and she make a great conversation.
The landscape, on the other hand is truly disappointing. It is mainly
plantations of yellow grassland. Some of the palm- and cashew nut
plantations are enormous!
I get a cup of coffee, and we talk a bit more. Then it is four o'clock, and I guess I have 130 kilometres "home". But, the car counts in miles, and that is a bit more: 210 kilometres. Well, I know the road, the police have no lasers, and I can do it in two hours, and be home before dark. I even get time for a needed pit-stop in Koh Naehek to gas the car.
I reach Sen Monorom just at the awesome sunset at
six, and meet the French gang at the hotel. They have found another
restaurant, and I give it a try. Their curry tofu with vegetables are
quit good, and the pancake with fruits make it a meal. Home to work, and
desperately try to get the internet working.
As I now head back towards the central Cambodia and Phnom Penh, I start on Diary 8