Vuthy invited me to his nephew’s wedding on Thursday but unfortunately I couldn’t go because I was on my way to Mondulkiri, a far eastern province in corner of Cambodia. Apparently it’s wedding season now so hopefully there will be another chance to go.
Mondulkiri is like a Cambodian Scotland. It took 9 hours to get here on the bus and on the way we stopped a couple of times, including our first stop at Skuon, aka ‘Spiderville’. I had read about it in the guidebook but it didn’t dawn on me where we were until I say the massive welcome sign flanked by two oversized tarantula ‘sculptures’. One of the girls in the apartment told me she had heard a story of some tourists who were taking photos and posing in front of a stall selling deep fried spiders, but not buying anything. The stallholder got so annoyed she reached down in her bag and threw a live tarantula at them…I don’t know if this is true or not but obviously it scared the living daylights out of me and when the bus stopped I practically ran, eyes down and camera in bag, to the toilet and back giving any food stalls a very wide berth.
The road was completely deserted for the last couple of hours of the journey. The brand new road had no villages next to it, barely any cars, just green jungle and rolling hills. There was a spectacular sunset and then we arrived in Sen Monorom shortly after dark.
I had arranged a day trip on Friday with a local guide called Torn to visit the nearby waterfalls and coffee plantation and when I arrived, as I was trying to explain to several moto drivers where my hotel was, I was surprised when I suddenly heard ‘Alison?’ It was Torn, he had gone to check at the hotel if I had arrived and finding that I hadn’t had gone to the bus station to pick me up. I was very pleased to see him as it seemed like no one had ever heard of my resort.
The resort I am staying at is set on a beautiful hillside and it’s really green, and pretty cold! I didn’t even think about the weather, I just assumed it would be hot like PP so it’s a bit of a shock to the system to suddenly be in 20°C and gusty winds.
Torn picked me up on Friday morning and we drove 33km on his motorbike to Bou Sraa waterfall, just 25km from the Vietnamese border. It was a great drive and couldn’t be more different to what I’ve seen of the country so far.
It was overcast, drizzled a few times and was really windy but I still managed to get sunburn! Bou Sraa is a double-drop, huge waterfall and we walked around the top of it and down a little, although it was really slippery on the rocks so we didn’t go to the bottom.
From there we drove back through some Bunong villages, the local tribe here, and stopped to walk around there before having lunch at a coffee plantation. It was very interesting to see how coffee is made, like pepper I had no idea what the trees looked like.
Driving on again we went up to the top of Phnom Bai Chuw, or Raw Rice Mountain, for a stunning view of the WWF protected forests. It’s also called the Sea Forest because it’s like an ocean of trees that goes on for miles. It was beautiful up there but covered in litter. Many places I have been so far have been covered in rubbish. There are rubbish bins but people can’t be bothered to use them Torn said. I don’t really understand this.
We stopped at a little temple for another view and then made our way down to the Monorom falls, another waterfall that was smaller but still lovely in a peaceful forest glade.
Mondulkiri is the perfect place to chill out and although it’s been cold (I have had to use my sarong as a scarf!), it’s refreshing to be out of PP for the weekend and blissfully quiet. It’s a shame it’s been too cold to swim in the infinity pool but it would be perfect as an escape from the hot season in April/May. My windswept villa is stunning (and huge) so now I have done the sights I haven’t felt the need to go out at all!