The stars and the morning sun are amazing in Ratanikiri. Our window faces east and as the quarter moon crosses the sky, the birds and bugs announce the coming of sunrise. The temps have cooled but we knew it would be short lived...Packing the truck we head out of town to the starting point. We have read various reports about road development along the track between Ban Lung and Sen Monorom, we find that in some instances the reports are bang on, others not. Construction is progressing but finishing any of the sections we run before the rains come is a very large question. The wind is blowing all morning, a blessing and curse. Either the dust is being blown into your face or away, some times all at once as we see many 'dirt devils'...At 28km we reach the river crossing south of Lum Phat. A wonderful cool and shady place, time for a swim and chat with a few Canadian guys we meet, they are on a 12 day motorcycle ride through the east. We trade stories and find out what to expect as far as road conditions, availability of water and such. Neither group wins in this discussion.
They have come through the most remote section, only to head back into the dirt. We are going in the opposite direction and wonder if we will have enough to make it through the next two days of running until we reach Koh Nek. The guys have trouble starting one of the bikes and we assist with rope so they can tow it to into Lumphat, hoping for a fix. Otherwise it's going to be a long slog for two of them.
Crossing the river wasn't something we spent much time thinking about, who would right. Well when we say what floating 'ferry' would take across we did the mental math on what would happen if we dropped Paul's truck in the middle of the river! Not a lesson we needed to learn, the four dugout canoes lashed together get us and others safely across...time to start running again.....
Nathalie has been working on an injury for the better part of a year and in planning the run we were not sure how it would turn out. She hammered through a solid 21km in the morning so I will spend the remainder of the day alone in the
jungle, meeting the truck and a concerned Nathalie every 5km. Mombo stays around to ensure I have enough water but otherwise I struggle through the silt, sand and dirt only able to manage a dozen more kilometers before we call the day done. It has been a very challenging day from a heat, terrain, and running perspective but we know that is all part of the adventure.
Mombo finds us an abandoned jungle camp which will be our overnight spot. As we are setting up the tents and getting dinner ready, the previous owner happens by and the conversation eventually get to why he left a perfectly wonderful spot. It is not as wonderful as we first think, there is no water in the area and our friend was forced to leave in search of a new location which had at least some availability of water for most of the year.
We have come to know that Mombo is an amazing cook and dinner is no different! We relax, talk about the day and tease Bunna about wild animals, seems he has never camped out before, let alone in the jungle!
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