Saturday – exploring San Monorom and around

So, 8am we were ready for our trip. Lauren and I on motos, the others in the car. They brought the bikes to the Nature Lodge, were worried about me driving myself and after driving down into town with dodgy gears they’d made me nervous enough to agree to pay the extra for a driver.

The route immediately out of town was perilous to say the least, but after that the roads were amazing, wide and sweeping so was disappointed not to have been braver!

We headed out to the biggest waterfall in the area, Bousra.
There were Cambodians there dressing up in traditional clothing and posing for photos, apparently its quite a common thing for them to do, more so than foreigners!

We braved the chilly water for a little paddle and photos in front of the waterfall before walking up to the top of the falls and then all the way to the bottom – via the steepest set of steps/a ladder- petrifying but I wasn’t going to miss out! And it was worth it!

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After more photos and playing in the water it was time to face the climb back up and the ladder in reverse……

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We then visited a couple of villages, chatted with the locals, tried some food- the guide was pretty peckish by now and grazing as he went! We tried a small green fruit that looked like a lime, but inside was completely different. At first it was really sour and bitter and as you chewed to intensity lessened but it never really got ‘better’ as promised! Then tried some green mango which again was relatively sour but was nice and went back for seconds!!

We met people processing their rice, separating the rice from the kernels they come in and got to try bashing some spices in a massive pestle and mortar – the women were not impressed with our efforts, wouldn’t give us a job!!

We then drove a bit further to visit a friend of the guide he’s building a Homestay on his land, he fed us an amazing snack of cassava (potato-like) that you dipped in honey and then sugar! Very yummy. The man was also a farmer and we were going to see his land until another dog came into their area chasing after chickens and he was worried it was rabid, protecting his daughter and the puppies, so we cut our visit short!

Finally at about 3pm we arrived at a coffee plantation for ‘lunch’ it seems we were taking much longer than normal tourists, too much talking to the locals!! The lunch was fantastic, like we’d had at the Homestay, but bigger – like a yellow pancake folded in half with herbs, bean sprouts, minced pork as a filling. It came with peanut/chilli dipping sauce and a platter of different leaves, eating with our hands you broke off some pancake, wrapped it in a leaf and dipped it in the sauce – delicious.

After that we had a walk around the plantation where as well as coffee they also grew pepper, our guide wouldn’t be drawn on whether pepper was better from here or Kampot!

Probably the highlight there though was seeing 2 peacocks and discovering their eggs had been found in the jungle and brought here to be looked after by one of the chickens. When they hatched they assumed she was their mother and they still follow her around even though she now has a tiny chick of her own.

By now it was getting late in the day and there was still more to see, so Lauren and I paid our drivers and we jumped in the car with the others and we headed up a massive hill to a temple. Here there were amazing views and also an old lady who took care of the temple as her adopted job, people bring offerings up here and always share with her. She makes little wool bracelets and will happily give you one whilst chanting a blessing for a long life. She doesn’t ask for donations, but of course we gave one.

Our final stop for the day was the Sea Forest – slightly confusing as there’s no water and not really trees! It’s a view where the hills in the distance look like waves! It was also an amazing place for a sunset.

Sadly tonight we said goodbye to Susanna and Kalana as they were leaving the following day, it has been a great few days the 5 of us being together, learnt so much together, they’re off back to kampong cham, siem reap and the cardamom mountains – somewhere I don’t have the time to get to sadly.

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