The photo :
Sen Monorom is at an altitude of 700m, which means it’s much colder than the rest of Cambodia. We finally got to wear the fleeces we had been carrying around for the last 1000km, and had our first hot shower in several months – blissful. The exciting novelty of being cold tempted us to stay in SM for a couple of days, and check out the town’s reputation as the ecotourism/trekking capital of East Cambodia (not a strongly contested title).
Tuesday involved a rather exciting motorbike ride along some suspect tracks to reach a waterfall. The road builders had taken a rather haphazard approach to road construction – sadly no photo’s are available (we were gripping on to the bike too hard to focus on photography) – suffice to say we were lucky to get away with only one puncture. The waterfall itself was impressive, and made even more entertaining by the constant promenade of Khmer tourists dressed in traditional Khmer cave girl and hunter costumes with baskets of leaves on their backs carrying massive gourds and crossbows while posing in Apsara poses for photographers. Difficult to describe, even more difficult to understand – probably best summed up by the photo below. Andy and I turned down the chance to recreate the look for just $1, a decision which may just turn out to be the most regretted of the trip.
Wednesday was equally surreal – we stayed overnight, and then spent a day at an elephant sanctuary about 20km out of town (http://www.elephantvalleyproject.org/). I expected this to be a pretty experience involving stables of domesticated elephants and staged washing and riding opportunities, but thankfully was proven wrong. We spent half a day trekking in the jungle with a mahout (local tribesman who look after an elephant each) and Jack, the founder of EVP. After about half an hour, we began to hear the cracking of tree trunks, and found 6 elephants who were contentedly demolishing the jungle. The elephants are not tame and are free to roam the jungle, but happily are not too freaked out by 2 white people taking endless photos, and attempting to pat them. We attempted to wash the elephants, who responded by immediately throwing mud over themselves, hid behind trees while Jack administered IM penicillin to an elephant buttock, and then headed back for an afternoon of volunteering – in this case helping to build new huts.