Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Normally we use a van to get to Chen Chea's village, but last Friday somebody had mistakenly taken the key with them to Battambang. We needed to get to the village, So, we did the most western-expat thing possible... we hired a tuk-tuk. Fair enough when we were on actual roads, but very soon these roads turned to dust, mud, and narrow paths through rice fields. There was a different vibe in the tuk-tuk.

Chen Chea's village is one of my favourite places in Cambodia. it takes an hour to get to in a tuk-tuk and is green, lush and completely untouched by tourism. Its the REAL Cambodia. When we arrived, the team did all the normal things... re-casting, standing excersizes, and got to see how well she has progressed.

The village visits are always the highlight of my week. Chen Chea is doing well, and fortunately she is off the steroids now so she will be regaining her strength with much more ease now (ironically). Her chickens have had chooks now, so there were PLENTY of baby chickens getting in the way of the casting, which was both inconvenient and adorable. Chen Chea was discovered because Impact Charities was doing work to make the community more sustainable by building wells and vegetable gardens. Like Chen Chea's mother was saying, she looks forward to seeing chen chea walk again so that they can both work again and live somewhat normal lives. Its so exciting watching her progress.

Then, it was back to Takmau for a very quick pack-up, then heading into Phnom Penh to get a share cab from the pineapple palace (the affectionate name given to the house that friends share in Phnom Penh) to Kampot. It took about 3 hours, and was really good fun. It was nighttime by the time we arrived at a place called the Boddhi Villa. Check it out: http://web.mac.com/houstonair/bodhi_villa/What_is_Bodhi_Villa.html

None of these photos or write-ups really show how stunning this place was, or the vibe it has, particularly when the live music was pumping on Friday night.
When I asked Joanna what we were doing over the weekend, she said we would spent alot of time swimming in the river, having cake and coffee and maybe even go for a massage on saturday. We caught drift that there was a waterfall about 7km from the hotel.

It wasn’t 7km. We piled into a tuk-tuk, and started off down a normal road, that quickly turned into sand dunes. How a tuk-tuk negotiated sand dunes im still not quite sure. We were heading in the direction of the mountain and dealt with every terrain possible, and had to get out and push the tuk-tuk out of holes. It was good fun. Soon, we had reached as far as the tuk-tuk could go.

If a tuk-tuk had endured that much, you can imagine how bad the next road was. Well, wasnt. For the most part, there wasnt actual road, and Joanna and I were holding tight onto each other and the motorbike was jumping gaps where road literally failed to exist. We were all good friends with the perfect english-speaking workers at the boddhi who were driving and knew these roads well. It was an absolute adventure, for sure.

Then we headed up the hill (somehow) along a path not quite big enough for the motorbike and our legs became covered in scratches from jungle trees. When we reached as far as the motorbike could go, we had found ourselves outside a small house. The owners were really relaxed, and happy to see us. They picked some fresh passionfruit off the tree and let us wash our cuts and sores in the river rapids. It was a beautiful place to relax.

Then, once our mates had ferried all 10 of us to the house, we started off on our adventure. The mountains were incredible, and the jungle was amazingly thick. We all kept up a very fast pace, faster than anything I could have managed just a few weeks ago in terms of fitness. At times, there was not only no pathway, but no ACTUAL way to get through more dense parts of the forest, so you would find yourself using problem solving skills to hoist up a tree or boulder and grab the nearest vine and swings. Again, there were a few slips and falls, but feeling so remote, adventurous and intrepid of it stopped us from complaining. The climb was incredibly steep, and in retrospect im still not sure how we managed to get up some of the slopes from recent landslides.

The trek took AGES, so when we finally heard the boom of the waterfall, we all felt pretty damned proud of ourselves. It was STUNNING. The water was FREEZING cold, but after the hot trek, it felt incredible. We spent plenty of time relaxing at the waterfall, swimming, and hanging out.

It was a long, exhausting weekend. The people, the vibe made staying at the Boddhi really special. 3 days later I'm still trying to get the mud out from between my toes. Its been an amazing weekend.

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