I spent a few lazy days in Kampong Cham and then headed out to Sen Monorom in the Mondulkiri province. The north-eastern provinces of Cambodia do not see a lot of tourists and offer a lot of pleasant experiences to the ones who wander in this direction. Mondulkiri was strongly recommended by a friend and since I had nothing particularly planned, I decided to go to Sen Monorom and figure it out thence. The province turned out to be much more beautiful than I had expected it to be! I also met people and heard stories that might stick with me for a long time.


A Hilly Affair

I woke up early and checked out of the hotel by 7:30 AM. I went to the Sorya stand first to inquire about available buses to Sen Monorom. They did not have one till later that afternoon, so I went to Lang US Express office which was a short walk away. They had a bus at 8:30 AM which I had already confirmed earlier. So I bought a ticket and sat waiting while the minutes ticked away to the departure time. Eventually a motodop came and picked me up and took me to a minivan which was being loaded with people and goods. I had been expecting a proper bus but I was yet to learn of Cambodia’s ways in transport. I hopped in hoping for a new experience, if nothing else. The population of the minivan was all local with just one other tourist sitting right behind me.

I drifted in and out of sleep during the entire journey. There were many stoppages to drop people or couriers but we managed to do the distance in good time. The locals in the minivan were quite pleasant. The hardworking conductor of the van even offered me some snacks when we stopped at one of the pit-stops for refreshments. I thanked her and took the grilled banana, which was a novelty for me. The Cambodian snack of preference is the boiled egg. You can see them eating that everywhere and the shells and smell linger on as a phantasmal reminder. But it is all part of the experience, is it not? So is the fact that the minivans are filled to their utmost capability. They stop just short of piling people and goods on top of one another, which is what you can still experience in India at times.

minivan Cambodian Transportation

I got talking to the tourist sitting behind me when we stopped for some food a short distance before Sen Monorom. She asked me where I was from and that led to the conversation. She had been to India four times and the om pendant, her kurta and the turban she tied on her head were tell-tale signs of her fascination with the country. This was Celine, a journalist from Lyon in France. I had an extremely interesting conversation with her over lunch where we talked about India and Cambodia. She was quite surprised to know that I was an Indian traveller and understood how I must be an out-lier back home. Unfortunately we had to cut the conversation short in the minivan because of the inconvenient seating arrangement.

The scenery changed shortly after we resumed journey. The hills had begun; this was the beautiful Mondulkiri province. As far as the view could be held, one could see gentle curvy hills imitating the facade of an ocean. This was another new experience for me. I was used to high peaks and ridgy mountain sides. I had even seen the inundation of the hills of Karnataka and the horizontally aligned Shayadhris. But these gentle swells that stretched into endlessness held me mesmerised. Celine called out from her seat and told me that the countryside here was similar from her home. My side of the window did not open so I was unable to take good pictures but I decided to enjoy the view without bothering much about the pictures.

A photo posted by Karan (@grasskode) on

We reached Sen Monorom soon afterwards. This small town is the capital of the Modulkiri province and it’s size somewhat reflected the remoteness of the province. Celine had a recommendation for a guest house and I was going to follow up on Eitan’s recommendation for a 2 dollar dorm. So we parted ways at the main market where the bus had dropped us, with the assumption that our paths would cross again in this small town.

I walked up to Happy Elephant Guest House and it turned out to be a really nice forest lodge sort of a place. The rooms were made of wood and stood on stilts in two neat rows. There was a wooden pathway going in between. The entire arrangement stood a couple of feet above ground! They had private rooms for 4 USD and the dorm for 2 USD. While both were in my budget, I decided to check out the dorm. Apparently I was the only one taking the dorm so I thought I would give it a shot for a night.

happy-elephant-4 Happy Elephant!

I took a bath in the rickety washroom and washed some clothes before heading out to the town. Eitan had suggested another place for the elephant tour and I tried finding it. I walked through the town’s market, which was like any other market in a similar country. I could not find where the elephant tour place was, and since I was not too keen about it anyway, I ended up sitting in a small coffee shop and working a bit.

sen-monorom-2 Sen Monorom Market

I was walking around, still looking for the elephant tour place when I ran into Celine. She had had an adventure of her own in finding her guest house. A police officer had misguided her somehow but she had found the place eventually. She even knew where the cafe was that sold the elephant tour. We were standing a few feet away from it! Celine had booked for the day after the next and we decided to meet there the next morning and go see the waterfall together. I presumed it would be nice to have some company for a change.

I returned to the hostel to find a girl clicking a dead rat in the mud next to the dorm. I was amused by her enthusiasm about it all. I exchanged a few words with her and then sat in the common area to upload an album for a blog post. Cambodia does not have the best internet in the region. The uploads were taking a lifetime! I decided to head out to grab some dinner. Sen Monorom was not as cheap as it’s size had suggested. A mediocre meal in a small place cost me upwards of 3 USD. I think the town is seeing it’s share of tourists and has developed the tourist prices. While this means cheap accommodation, it also means expensive food and drinks.

dinner Rice and Soup

It was close to 10 in the night when I headed back to the hostel. The streets had turned deserted and the dogs took to barking at me as I crossed their territories. Sen Monorom was not a place for late nights. The hostel was also devoid of anyone hanging about in the common room. I walked to the dorm in the darkness and settled in the big empty room. I could not find a way to latch the door from inside so I let it be and settled in my bed. It had been a while since I had slept with the sounds of the wilderness flooding into my ears. The crickets were making a racket and I thought I heard the door creak open a few times. I eventually stopped thinking about it all and fell into a deep sleep.

Conversations between La Boulet and a Scooter wala

I had slept quite well for all the horrors of the previous night. I woke up at 9:45 AM to find Celine’s message from 8 AM that she would be in Greenhouse Cafe (the same cafe recommended for elephant tours) for breakfast. I quickly freshened up and asked my guest house for a motorbike. A few calls were made and a man came to pick me up on his motorbike. He drove me to his rental place which was right opposite Greenhouse Cafe. The bike cost me 7 USD for a day long rental and the guy pointed out a few places of interest to me on a map that he had handed out. I crossed the road with the bike and sat in Greenhouse Cafe for some breakfast. Celine had apparently had her breakfast and had returned to her guest house by then. She returned once I told her we were good to go and thus we set out on the scooter. She jokingly called herself la boulet meaning “all and chain” since she thought she was dragging along with me. I became the scooter wala in her surprisingly good Hindi.

We headed out to Bou Sraa Falls which was around 30 kms from Sen Monorom. Celine navigated the old-school way, using a paper map. I was amused as well as surprised when we got to the falls without losing way. The roads were green and beautiful throughout. Apart from some loose gravel lying around, the quality of the road was pretty good as well. The sun was out and the sky had an surreality about it; it was an unreal blue with white clouds scattered all over it. It seemed as if projected out of an artist’s imagination. It was a perfect day to ride about and talk about a variety of things; from trivialities such as Bollywood movies to French Republic and the current racial challenges in France. Celine was an extremely interesting person to talk to about all topics, though being a journalist must have helped her in gaining all these perspectives. She was something of a feminist as well, though she did not put it in so many words.

Bou Sraa

We reached the falls and parked the bike at the top. There were some men playing a peculiar game which Celine recognised as boules. She used to play the game back home and explained the rules to me which mostly went over my head. We walked to the falls while we were talking and realised that this was the top of the first step of the falls. The actual viewing area was down below but we walked around for a bit and I hopped some rocks to take a few pictures.

bou-sraa-2 Bou Sraa from top

There was a 2.5 USD entry fees to go to the viewing area and an offer to do some zip-lining. Neither of us were interested so we paid the entrance fee and walked on a short pathway that led us to the viewing area. There were some handicraft and food stalls that we passed without paying much attention to. The trail ended at the base of the second, and rather small, step of the waterfall. There was a nice pool that one could swim in and the view of the first step was quite nice. We could also see the third step from above which was the grandest of the three. Unfortunately we could not find a way to go down and see the falls from below.

bou-sraa-4 The falls

I decided to take a dip in the pool which was deeper than I had anticipated. Celine decided to sit it out and seated herself on a big rock with a great view of the falls. I floated on my back and came upon the area with the rocks. They were right under the surface and swimming here was both, pointless and dangerous. So I simply waded to the other side and then headed back. I had gained enough confidence about staying afloat in water one way or the other though flowing water was proving to be a bit tricky.

I saw a few people go up a path to the base of the first step. Celine followed and my bag and camera were now left unattended. So I headed back but it took enough time for Celine to have returned. She had not gone all the way in because that would have involved getting wet and the rocks were somewhat slippery. But of course, I was going to go check it out! 😅 But first I inspected the time-lapse video that I had set the camera to take while I had gone swimming in the pool. It turned out pretty good in my opinion!

bou-sraa-timelapse VIDEO : Bou Sraa time lapse

The rocks were slippery but I managed to get there slowly. It is the flow of water rather than the slipper rocks that make it difficult for me. I went right till the base and the water was coming down in huge volumes! I got drenched just standing there! I sat for a while and enjoyed the view. People trickled in slowly and the falls seemed to be getting packed up. I walked back to where my bag was, dried up and then we headed back to the bike.

Coffee Plantation

We slowly rode back on the bike. Celine was telling me about the rising racism in France and how she abhorred it. It eventually got around to world politics and America’s fuck ups as it usually does with me. Celine also told me a few things that were surprisingly out of line with my view of the French. They were weirdly similar to Indians in matters of fixed life patterns (go-to-school-get-a-job-get-married-have-children-buy-a-house kind of a pattern) and they were quite close close to their families. Celine had been looked upon as a freak when she started backpacking 20 years ago; we concluded that India was going through a similar phase right now.

There was a coffee plantation that was on the map handed out to us. They had a small restaurant up front and we stopped for a bite. A few kids came running to us when we stopped the bike and showed us the baby monkey that they were playing with. The monkey was not bounded to the humans but ran around freely and played with the children with equal enthusiasm. It was a rather endearing sight to see man and primate frolicking in tandem.

coffee-plantation-3 Monkey Business

We ordered coffees and a plate of Banh Chiao, Cambodian crepes similar to Banh Xeo of Vietnam but for some subtle differences. It was a recommended dish and rightly so. We rolled the pancakes in the herbs given and dipped it in a sweet and chilli sauce that came with it. The flavours burst in my mouth and I was in love. The dish was probably the most amazing Cambodian speciality that I had tasted.

banh-chiao-2 Banh Chiao!

The conversation grew more personal over the coffee. We talked about our lives thus far and in present, how it was a constant struggle against convention and how it was necessary for the next generations. We talked about dreams realised and lost in the process. The coffee had finished and we had walked into the plantation. There was another terrific view to be enjoyed from the top of the town that lay spread out ahead. We headed back to the bike and rode out of the plantation.

coffee-plantation-6 coffee-plantation-8 Walking around the plantation

Dokhromom & Sea Forest

I rode to the Dokhromom mountain that lay to the north-east of the town. It was a short ride from the coffee plantation and afforded an excellent view of the town. We talked some more en route; about Europe and Asia and the striking dissimilarities; about the differing concepts of personal space and the human need of having people around you. She knew very well what personal space in India was like and I elaborated on our practice of living our personal lives in the public eye.

The top of Dokhromom had a small and beautiful temple made for the mountain spirit. Legend had it that the mountain had protected the denizens of the area from the American bombings. The mountain spirit thus came to be worshipped and was a popular granter of wishes.

dohkromom-1 Temple to the mountain spirit

There was an extremely nice viewing gallery that was made towards the town’s side of the hill and we walked up to it. Celine got talking to a fellow French traveller while I walked about clicking pictures. The view and the entire scenery had the effect of surreality on me. The white clouds peppered across the sky looked amazing.

A photo posted by Karan (@grasskode) on

I walked back to where Celine and the other girl were talking. This was Margo (I hope I got the name right) who was staying in the same guest house as Celine. She was having a tough day with some money being stolen out of her handbag and a row with her last guest house regarding the missing money. She seemed to calm down while we talked. It turned out that she had roots in Pondicherry! She was taking a break to travel before starting preparation for civil services. We talked for a while and Celine and Margo decided to meet up for dinner later that night. Then we left to see the sunset from a spot a little further from Dokhromom.

A short ride saw us at a vantage point that looked over an unending expanse of green hills. This was the sea forest and rightly called so. For as far as the eye could see, there was just the gentle swells of the green hills. They looked like the calm waves of a sea and but for a single telephone tower that stood out on one side, the view was unbroken.

sea-forest-1 Weirdos at the Sea Forest

It was the perfect place for sunset so we chose a nice spot and sat down to see the sun set. We talked some more, mostly about travels and the best places that either of us had been to. Celine had more to share than me, of course. The sun hid behind a small clump of clouds and we got up to find that we were the last ones out.

sea-forest-timelapse VIDEO : Sunset

We rode back to the main road slowly, struggling on the undulating muddy road in the headlight. Then I zipped to the town which was a kilometer or so away. We returned the bike and then parted ways. Celine went back to her guest house and I went to Greenhouse to have some shake and work a while.

Celine and Margo walked into Greenhouse later for dinner. Margo seemed much more at ease now and they sat talking. I barely participated in the conversation since I was working. I managed to get some work done and chatted about a prospective project. We had our dinner and retired to our respective guest houses. Margo was leaving for Kampong Cham the next day and Celine and I were going to meet again for the elephant tour. I had booked the tour for 50 USD and it was going to start early in the morning. I returned to the dorm room and called it an early night.

Elephant Tribe

The alarm went off at 6:45 AM and I had barely managed any sleep. I guess that it was because of all the caffeine in my system. I was much more at ease with all the sounds in my room and I had managed to find a way to latch the door of the dorm room. I was still the only occupant of the big dorm and the arrangement seemed a luxury to me now. Anyway, I freshened up and put together a basic backpack and headed out to the Greenhouse Cafe.

Celine was already sitting there having a pancake that looked quite delicious so I ordered the same for myself. It was quite delicious but not really cheap. I guess I just needed to get used to the rates out here. When it was time to go, we were asked to step outside and gather in front of the van that was waiting for us. It was a big enough group, around 10-12 people in all. A man, who was probably in charge of the tours, introduced us to our guide and mahout. The two women were from the Bunong tribe which was an ethnic minority in Cambodia. The Bunongs were elephant people and they had been focused for the various elephant projects that were running in Mondulkiri. Heng was our guide for the day and Leng was the mahout who was a celebrated character since she was the only female mahout in Cambodia. When we sat in the van after a brief introduction, I realised that these women smelt of earth and smoke, a smell that I loved. This was the smell that my clothes acquired on my treks when I spent days out in the nature.

We headed in the direction of Bou Sraa falls and stopped a couple of times en route to pick up a few things. We abruptly stopped in front of a forest trail and got off the van. We were handed a couple of water bottles and a piece of banana shoot which was supposed to be a gift for the elephants. We entered the jungle and were walking on a muddy track.

finding-elephants-1 Looking for the beasts

Heng was up front telling something that I could not properly hear from back where I was. A short while later Heng and Leng started hooting in a peculiar way, which was later explained as a call for the elephants. We reached a clearing but there was no elephant to be seen. We sat a while in the clearing while Leng made a few phone calls and Heng explained the situation to us. The elephants were free to roam about and the mahouts took care of them. The mahouts worked in shifts and since one batch had gone home the previous day, the elephants had wandered off somewhere. There was a male tusker who they sought out and if they had gotten together with him it would be a difficult affair. I was immediately glad because this meant that we were not doing the feeding and bathing in a farm like situation that I had been apprehensive of. These elephants enjoyed a quasi freedom which was the highlight of these community based projects.

Heng did a round of introductions as well and was quite amused to know that I was from India. She said that she really liked the dance from India. 💃 Heng also told us a bit about her village’s customs and how they practiced animalism. She was something of a rebel and told us how certain customs were ridiculous and painful. She told us about the recent case of a mahout who had died in an accident. The elders believed unnatural deaths to be a punishment for evil deeds and now the family was supposed to perform a purging ceremony which involved burning everything they owned; clothes, house, everything. Moreover, no one would help the family lest they be affected by the “bad luck”. She was in utter disdain of the superstition.

A Household of Three

We decided to stop waiting and go looking for the elephants. We started tracing our way back in the direction we had come from. We ran into another mahout who seemed to know where the elephants were and we turned around to follow him. We reached another clearing where the three cows were to be seen clearly from afar.

elephants-1 The three cows

Heng had already told us about the three while we were waiting. Chi Wa (almost dead), Chi Chrin (lazy one) and Mi Kun (cute one) were 92, 66 and 55 years old respectively. While we walked into the clearing, Chi Wa came up to meet me and stood in front of me. I offered the banana stem but she did not take it immediately. Heng had warned us about her. She was a senile old woman! 😂

elephants-2 Hello there!

I was at a loss at how to read the animal’s emotion which became the reason for my constant wariness against them. I could not find any physical signs which would tell me whether the elephant was happy, frustrated, angry or not. And I was not going to fool around mindlessly with a 3 tonne beast! It took me a while to realise that I was facing a much more intelligent and expressive creature than I had ever seen before.

elephants-video VIDEO : The Ladies

Everyone’s favourite was Mi Kun because of her outright friendliness. She was the hungriest one as well who poached on the others’ share of banana stalks. We walked around them and clicked photos or made videos. I eventually gathered some courage to go and touch Mi Kun’s trunk. These animals were so awesome in the literal sense of the word!

A photo posted by Karan (@grasskode) on

We let the animals wander off after a while and sat with Heng, Leng and the other mahouts. Heng told us about how the elephants spent their days and about the tourism as it had evolved from elephant rides to the current tours which helped in the elephants’ and the community’s upkeep. Celine asked how the community had reacted to Leng’s pursuit of being a mahout in a male dominated profession. Leng’s father was a very important man and no one dared to go against him when he supported Leng’s case. That had made things simpler for her. Leng was retired now though, at the age of forty, to settle down and raise a family. She trained young mahouts to pass on her skills with the elephants.

We got up to see the elephants taking a mud bath. The three were inseparable. Chi Wa and Chi Chrin were helping coat each other with mud but Mi Kun spotted us watching from the sidelines. She thought it rude for us to be ignored, so she came up to us and greeted us individually! She actually walked up close to each one of us and waited for us to touch and scratch her trunk. And when I say she greeted us one at a time, I mean it. She went from one side to the other and since I was standing a few steps back, she came forward to indicate that it was my turn. Such intelligent creatures! I think it might have been possible to build an understanding with the elephants if one were to do this for a longer time. There are options of week long volunteering activities which might give a better understanding of the elephant’s ways.

Anyway, we left the animals to themselves and went to a nearby waterfall. I talked to another guy who was from my guest house. This was a Brazilian by the name of Daniel. He and two Spanish girls had come from Phnom Penh where they were volunteering in various organisations. Daniel had plans to travel around South East Asia for some time in a similar way, volunteering and working. While most of the others jumped into the water, I took a short nap on the rock next to the stream. When it was time for lunch, I got up and enjoyed a simple and delicious meal of rice, tofu, chicken and fruits.

lunch Food 🍛 💖

Then I sat in the circle that had formed around Heng while she was telling her story.

An Orphan’s Life

Heng had been orphaned at the age of 5. She had been brought up without a father and her family consisted of her mother and her five brothers. One morning, a man came raging up to their house and accused Heng’s mother, a midwife, of witchcraft. She had helped the man’s wife give birth and certain complications had led to the woman’s death. The ravaged man thought it to be Heng’s mother’s doing and tied her and Heng’s brothers together and cut then with a machete right in front of Heng’s eyes! The village stood quiet while the murderer slaughtered the family. The little girl ran away from the freak and tried to find someone who would shelter her. Her uncles turned her away, lest the maniac follow her and terrorise their families. Shunned by the village, she took to the forest.

For the next three years the girl lived in the forest, drinking from the river, foraging for food and smoking tobacco that she picked from the wilderness. In her own words, humans scared Heng more than the forest ever did. Around the age of 8, Heng went near the village and was spotted by a Khmer woman who took her in. This was the first time in 3 years (that’s almost half a lifetime for an 8 year old) Heng was shown warmth and love. She had to relearn how to love and trust another human being.

Things went better for Heng thence. She was hospitalised to cleanse her system of the impurities that had accumulated over the years in the forest. She had also developed a skin infection around her neck. At the age of 10 she was put into an orphanage and was lucky enough to be adopted by a French family within a month. They flew her into Phnom Penh and paid for her treatment. She had lost an eye and a scar across her neck were reminiscent of the ravages she had faced as a child.

Heng was a hardcore woman who had learnt life the hard way. She had been through a childhood that is literally unimaginable. She was still rebelling against the oppression of the elders in her village and the mindless customs practiced. I had nothing but the utmost respect for her.

After Heng was done with her story, she said it was time for the elephants to come by. She changed and went into the pool and invited all of us to join her. Daniel jumped into a spot that she said was safe and another young guy followed. I dared not!

washing-elephants-2 Daniel jumps!

The elephants did come in a bit and we all got into the water. The older one, Chi Wa, was leading the lot as always and she stopped to drink a lot of water before she got in. Once again, we had been warned that she was a no-go zone for us. She did not like anyone bathing her except her mahout and could get cranky and swat us off with her trunk if we tried! Chi Chrin and Mi Kun were more than enough though.

washing-elephants-3 Elephants arrive

I had a go at bathing Mi Kun towards the end. I had the camera in one hand which made paddling towards her a little difficult. The was was deep enough to scare me and Mi Kun’s inexpressive eyes following me as I approached did not help. The mahout pulled me up and I had sat for a few seconds only when Mi Kun indicated that she wanted me to get off. She dove into the water to indicate that. I went back, handed the camera to Celine, took a deep breath and gave it another shot. I was more composed this time and managed to convey my surety to Mi Kun somehow. I bather her for a bit and took it up a notch when she went in to indicate that she had had enough, I stayed put. 😆 Mi Kun shook from side to side to indicate that she really did want me off and I waited to her to re-emerge before sliding off her and going back to the group.

washing-elephants-13 My turn!

The elephants eventually got out of the water and we followed suit and went out and dried ourselves. Everyone was looking forward to a long shower back in the town since we had been swimming in elephant shit all along. 🐘 💩 😁 I did not mind though. I had absolutely enjoyed the experience.

Goodbyes

We walked to the road where the van picked us up and we headed to Paolong village, which was Heng and Leng’s home. We were given a short tour of the village. Heng pointed out the traditional Bunong huts which were constructed to endure all kinds of weather. Only a few of them remained now.

bunong-hut-2 Bunong Hut

She also told us about the crops that were grown in the village and gave us a live demo of eating red ants! I tried one as well. Ants were somewhat tangy to taste. I came to know that ants were something of a specialty in these parts and are actually quite healthy.

We headed to the coffee plantation next and were greeted by a short spell of rains there. We sought shelter and managed to gather around a table. Celine and I convinced a few people to try the Banh Chiao and all of us drank some coffee as well. Celine overdid the chilli in the sauces. While some complained, I loved it!

banh-chiao-1 More Banh Chiao!

We talked a bit around the table and then paid our bills. Heng took us for a short tour around the area. She showed us small farms of dragon-fruit, passion-fruit and pepper. She said that people had taken up pepper farming since coffee was not as profitable anymore. That and the government’s sale of land under the name of “development” was having an adverse effect on the ecology of the area. This short tour ended our day with Heng and we thanked her as we sat in the van. It had been a pleasure meeting this marvellous woman.

passionfruit-farming-1 Passion-fruit flower

The van dropped us at the Greenhouse Cafe. Celine, Daniel, Belen, Lauda and I sat there for a while and talked a bit. Belen and Lauda were the Spanish girls from my hostel. Celine and I exchanged some recommendations that we had been talking about over the past two days. They ranged from travel destinations to movies. We had some shakes and beers and then left for our hotels. Celine was heading out the next morning so I said goodbye to her as well. She was one of those amazingly cool women that I had chanced to encounter.

The four of us headed back to the hostel and took a short detour through the pagoda nearby. The sun was setting as we walked into the complex. A monk tried making some conversation with us but we could not exchange more than hellos because of our limited understanding of each others’ language. We made small talk as we roamed around the place and I learnt that the girls were volunteering in a day-care center in Phnom Penh and Daniel was volunteering with a micro-service firm. The sunset was really beautiful today and the colours were exquisite. It would have been a perfect one to see from atop the Dokhromom or the Sea Forest.

sunset-1 Another amazing sunset

We walked back to the hostel and decided to meet for dinner. I took a shower and did some laundry before heading back to the common area. Everyone trickled in slowly and we talked some more. Daniel told me how he came about the entire volunteering stint. This was just the beginning of his journey. He also explained the boom and crash of the Brazilian economy to me. Belen was such a cool girl! She was just 21 but had played Sega and listened to blues, swing and jazz music. That was rare to come across. Lauda did not speak much since her English was rudimentary. We ate some dinner and played some pool before calling it a night. These guys were leaving for Phnom Penh early the next morning so it was goodbye to them as well. Back in the room I worked a bit and then dozed off when I could not keep my eyes open anymore.

A Lazy Day

I woke up around 9 and headed out to Greenhouse to work and eat some omelette.

breakfast-and-work Morning chores

The slow internet had made it a pain to upload the album and this problem was a consistent one throughout Cambodia. I returned to the hostel for a while to charge my devices and then walked back to Greenhouse for some more work and lunch. Cambodia was definitely not the country of choice of internet related work.

A few women were having lunch and beer on the table next to mine and I engaged in some passive eavesdropping. They were going to volunteer with the Elephant Project for 5 days. They then started talking about cats which was a rather boring subject. They left after a while and were replaced by two older men, one from Australia and the other from New Zealand. They were with two young Cambodian girls who were supposedly having a good time. One of them addressed me and we exchanged a few words. He owned a certain girlie bar in Phnom Penh and all of them were here on vacation. It was a debauched lifestyle but I was no one to pass judgement; to each his own. The women seemed fine enough and somewhat “happy”. I booked my tickets for the next destination and left Greenhouse. I had spent the better part of the day sitting here.

I walked around to explore the parts of the small town that I had not seen yet. There was another good looking hostel and some eateries. Then I sat in a coffee shop to drink my first ever Oreo shake (I did not like it much).

oreo-shake Oreo Shake

I headed towards the lake at the other end of the town and then beelined my way back to the hostel.

A photo posted by Karan (@grasskode) on

Here I lay in the hammock in front of the dorm room reading my kindle till it got dark and the mosquitoes starting harassing me. I went to the common room for a while to do some research on my upcoming travel. With nothing much to do and an early morning van to catch, I went to bed early that night.


Whether you enjoyed the post or not, do leave a comment!

Find the previous posts in this series here.

And here is the complete album of the Sen Monorom leg of the trip.

Sen Monorom, Sep 2016