The pagoda is being built bit by bit as money is available and the monks themselves stay in a modest wooden long house of sorts. None of them is older than maybe 18 years of age and not a single 'adult' is involved in their surroundings. Mombo takes Jeff to present a small offering of soap and some cash. An experience that won't be forgotten, two of the young monks a ccepting our gift and in turn chant a blessing. Reality slips across dimensions and time wanders somewhere else. To Nathalie is sounds like many voices, strong and magical. A perfect start to the day....
A flaw in our training plan becomes very clear, very quickly. Can you spell the words "long climbs". This is where the climbing starts and does not stop, how can we continue to climb, kilometer over kilometer with no real descent! At some point we reach a hill so long and so steep that trucks and moto's stagger themselves in a line up to get a running start, black exhaust spewing out of their tailpipes. The mantra "how do you climb a mountain - one step at a time" serves us well on this day.
We know we are finishing today and have a vague idea of the distance to go, having said that, distances seem to change out on the road. Two questions answered can differ by as much as 10km so we stop asking. Breakfast is at 15km like usual, our routine is fully in place and it helps manage the day. There is no denying we will continue to climb, no use in stopping for long and we decide to push on and that lunch can wait until we are done.
With the change in elevation, the surroundings also change. We are now in the Mondulkiri protected forest area and the jungle around us is an amazing site. Nothing like spotting a tiger or very large cougar set of paw prints in the sand to help along with the pacing. The sounds of chanting birds and the cooler temperature are a huge boon for the spirit... We continue to climb. As we approach Sen Monorom, the traffic picks up, as does the red choking dust and we have a close call with two trucks racing along a short portion of what could pass for a doubling lane. Close call. We contiue,
spotting very distinctive Pnong huts and later on as we near the end a very lush coffee plantation, the first we have seen in this country. At what is starting to feel like a reaking point for us, we reach a fork in the road. Not sure which way to go, and with cell towers in sight, we reach out to the guesthouse where we will be spending the night. As luck would have it, they are a mere 4km down the left fork!
The days ends and so does Running Cambodia v3, the wild east edition, on a hill top overlooking a pretty valley. Tired, filthy and maybe even a bit sad to be so, we are done......
We check into the Nature Lodge, get cleaned up and feast on what is one of Mombo's best meal! A cheers to the team, it's time to relax and start the next stage of our adventure.....
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