Yesterday the District Governor gave a lunch to honour us. He brought the menu and the company (taking all his office with him) and we put the hunger and our most sincere gratefulness. We felt doubly thrilled, for his words about our work in ThmarPuok and also when we knew that he had disposed an escort to go with us to Ang Tropeang Thmor the next day. Although his jurisdiction didn’t reach that far, he had already agreed with the other two following districts that they would be taking care of us as we got to them.
Today at six there was nobody at the water station and Taren told us to go to the police station… nobody there either; feeling a bit down because we had liked the idea of having bodyguards and because we didn’t know the way very well, we headed to Ang Tropeang Thmor.
We hadn’t done more than seven kilometres, when we had a leak. Around us, some houses, a small shop and an old lady who sends us a bit further to see if we find someone who can help us. We arrive to a close shed, a boy walks by, we ask him for help, but the owner of the workshop is not there. We tell him that we have the inner tubes, we only need the tools… he doubts, gets inside the shed through the back of the building and takes them out. He starts to change it but he can’t because the tyre is broken. Just about to start despair, a policeman appears from the nothing! Some of us go back to the village in his motorbike to look for a spare tyre. Eleven shops later they come back with empty hands. About to despair again, the spontaneous mechanist gets inside again and comes back with a tyre from the exact required dimensions. Once the tyre has been changed, we continue our way, this time, yes, escorted by the police.
At a certain point of the way, change of roadbed and guard. Stop, greetings, goodbyes, thanks and go on. A few kilometres after we change again, this time a couple of very young policemen follow us in one motorbike. They want to shorten the way; they know a shortcut and, without previous warning, we find ourselves in the middle of rice fields and sand. The world is full of good wills… Finally, five kilometres before we expected, we appear in the limit of the road that ends in Ang Tropeang Thmor.
Once alone, we stop to drink water in a village which not many foreigners visit for sure; they surround us, give each one of us a biscuit and, while we have them, more and more people come to stare at us. We ride the bikes again and we get to the wildlife reserve. The landscape is awesome; lots of lilies, trees, bush, buffalos and birds appear as we follow the path across the lagoon for a bit more than ten kilometres.
This place is famous because a very important irrigation system was implemented from here in the Khmer Rouge times. As the marsh turn into a giant lake, a framework of dams, channels, streams and creeks feeds the circulatory system that takes water to the fields of the region.
We stop to have a grilled fish at the end of the lake in a local resort with hammocks and we sleep in Phnom Srok, an avoidable village.