We started a bit afraid after the arrival to Sen Monoron going through these mountains without one sole place to buy water on the road. Although Sonang, the guide who took us to the elephants trip, had calmed us down providing us with a list of the villages that we would cross and ensuring the road was passable, we began the day climbing an upslope that didn’t foretell anything good… From up there we could see a wonderful landscape, what here they call “the sea forest”. The hills appear covered in a thousand greens, reaching the horizon while they get lost in the morning mist, they seem green waves of the sea.

artwatereness mondulkiri sea forest

The paths of orange ground, the contrast with the vegetation, the silence going through them with the bicycles, only broken by the birds singing which, although invisible, confirm the existence of the huge biodiversity this area owns. It was beautiful and, although there were slopes, they weren’t as steep as those we climbed days ago.
artwatereness mondulkiri seaforest way
It made us strong to see that, where Sonang has said there would be a village, there it was, so we stopped to have breakfast and followed the route. We barely crossed any cars, the two of us were silent, enjoying the ride. Another village. We stopped for a coffee in the shop of a cute couple who had just married a week ago.
artwatereness just married
The people were still celebrating Khmer New Year and they went and came from the pagoda with food, played cards, and danced in the evening. We were invited to stay there with them for the night, but it was only nine in the morning and we had to go a bit further.
artwatereness celebrating KNY

We went ahead and we could see some parts of the forest which had been burnt and cut down, a pity… the first rains of the year were starting to green the empty areas, transmitting the optimism of the regenerating power of nature.
artwatereness buffalos on the way

We had lunch in a small village; all the restaurants were closed due to the holidays and we only found a stand which offered a mixture of fish sausages and pork, chicken and beef, everything dressed with a spicy sauce if you wished. We had thought of sleeping in this village, but it was soon and we decide to try to reach Kaoh Neah, the next place with a guest house even though it was 50km away…

More and more tired, without crossing any villages in this stage, sometimes we even stopped enjoying the way. Maybe we hadn’t measured our strength well; as we got closer, we decided that we would spend a couple of days recovering in that guest house.
artwatereness mondulkiri to ratanakiri exhausted

We finally got there, dead beat, we checked in the dirtiest room we had ever been in, and there have been many. It was full of bugs in all the phases of the vital and mortal cycle with a bathroom nobody had cleaned since it was built… AAAARRRGGG!!! We swore, we wouldn’t stay there two days! After almost one hundred kilometres, we nearly cried thinking about going back to the road the next day. We went to have something for dinner; of course, the restaurants were in the market, on top of the only hill in the village.. we thought about not having dinner… but finally we cursed and we dragged up until the closest one.

When we went back “home”, we discovered we had had the luck that our window was front of the party; the music, the noise and the coloured lights flooded the room. Never minded, nothing could keep us away from sleeping. Tomorrow would be another day.

Date: April 17 Skills: ON WHEELS, the route

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