Thursday – Sen Monorom, Mondulkiri

The morning was great as Don wasn’t there! He’d tended to keep the children away from us and there was a general atmosphere when he was around. I’d had a brief talk with their daughter, Na, over the last couple of days about school, what she was studying, her favorite subject, maths, also her aunt’s to teach, but they attend different schools. Her brother Ra was much shyer, she was definitely the talker!

This morning she was sat at the table copying pictures of flowers from an exercise book. We discussed which flowers we have in England and that lots of tulips grow in Holland, where Wendy is from. Her favorite is the buttercup, so I told her about holding them under your chin to see if you like butter!

Breakfast was the same as the day before and equally as yummy! And we spent our time chatting and I asked Kheang if we might be allowed to see the kitchen and she was happy to show us. It was so basic, 2 gas rings, a few pots and pans, a pestle and mortar, herbs, spices, the ubiquitous palm sugar (we tried some it’s like Scottish tablet) and that was pretty much it. Incredible that such amazing meals came from such a humble kitchen, especially when you consider all the stuff we have in our kitchens at home.

It was getting close to our 10.30 pickup so we took some photos with Kheang, made me realize how tiny she is! And it was time to say our goodbyes.

I was truly sorry to leave there, it was an amazing experience that Kheang, by opening up her home, allowed is to share in and we spoke to people I probably would never otherwise have met, let alone have the discussions we had with them.

So we all headed back to Kampong Cham to catch our bus to Sen Monorom in Mondulkiri. We had time to pop to Smile restaurant again for a drink before the journey. We also got some baguettes to keep us going. And called the Nature Lodge where everyone was already booked into and managed to change Lauren and Wendy’s booking for a twin to a triple – cheaper and I had buddies to stay with!

The bus left at 12 and took 6 hours, so not too bad especially as the bus wasn’t full so we could have our own seats! The journey was uneventful apart from moments when you could hear that the bus had changed down through all its gears and was almost at a standstill on the hills, at any moment we were going to have to get out and push! Also we had the pleasure of some very random films and a lot of karaoke music, bit no one sang sadly……

We arrived in the dark but were picked up in a van that took us up out of town to the Nature Lodge. Although it was dark it looked pretty amazing.

We checked in and were shown to our room, 2 beds on the ground floor and another up in the roof, Lauren took that one – she had her own gekko for company! And a really nice bathroom with hot water!

It was chilly up there and after dinner in the bar and a couple of beers we were very happy to discover that we had duvets to sleep under. Even then I was chilly in the night – we leanrt the following day the temperature had dropped to 16 degrees!!!!

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