How many people can you fit in a 16 seater minibus?

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October 25th 2012
Published: October 25th 2012
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The answer, I found out, is 27. This is providing you squish 6 people on 4 seats at the back and drive along with the boot door open and force 3 people to ride on the luggage. Oh, and pay bribes to all the police at the checkpoints along the way, police whose job is no doubt to prevent such deathtraps traveling along the roads of Cambodia.

This is how I traveled from Sen Monorom in eastern Cambodia. Initially I was quite amused by it all but then the English man sat next to me kept going on about how all the additional weight meant that the suspension was "f**ked" ( I'm guessing this isn't the technical term) and how our risk of a blow out was therefore increased. Didn't help. Still, no chickens on board or anybody's goat on my lap.

I'd been in Sen Monorom to visit the Elephant Valley Project. The aim of the project is to improve the health and welfare of elephants in the province through a monitoring and research project and education. The project is home to 12 elephants, all of whom had previously worked in logging, tourism, or belonged to local people. Most have suffered physically and emotionally from their work. Elephants can actually only carry 10% of their own body weight so contrary to popular belief, carrying and logs and tourists is actually damaging to them. The elephants have either been rescued, bought or rented from their owners, many of them from the local Bunong people and can now live out their days wandering the remaining forests just being elephants.

I spent 3 days at the project, alternating spending time with the elephants with volunteering on the site painting fences. Spending time with the elephants was amazing. On the first day I walked down to a river where the elephants come to bathe every day. Four of them walked right past me in to the river. I've never been so close to them and have to admit I had to swallow a little squeal of fear and these huge animals just sauntered past. I was able to wade in to the river and throw buckets of water over them, mostly soaking myself in the process. Feeding them bananas was the best bit though I can confirm elephant breath isn't all that great!

It was coming towards the end of the rainy season in Cambodia. In Mondulkiri Province paved roads are almost non existent and in most places are red dirt tracks. I have never been so wet and muddy and eventually gave up trying to stay clean. Being in the middle of the forest the base where we slept was alive with wildlife. I found a baby scorpion in the bathroom, numerous fact it's a wonder I managed to sleep at night! I had to walk downhill in the pitch dark to get to my room at night, with only the light of a cheap and nasty torch to guide me. I'll be honest, I didn't like it much. I kept worrying about what the torchlight would show up but found that humming to myself helped.

Cambodia really is a beautiful country. The forests are green and lush and the people are incredibly friendly. The food is tasty too. I also visited Sihanoukville on the coast spending a couple of nights at a lovely place called Mushroom Point, right on the beach. A two hour boat ride from here takes you to Ko Rong Island. Definitely visit here if you have the chance to go to Cambodia. The island is like something from a bounty advert- white sands, turquoise seas, absolutely beautiful.

One night I got talking to and American man who had been living on the island for a few months. I mentioned that I could hear a nibbling sound in my hut at night, which I thought was the wood beetles or termites I'd seen evidence of in the bamboo parts of the wall. Apparently not. No, he informed me that what I could hear was mice nibbling about all over the room but " not to worry" at night a snake or two probably wandered in to the hut gobbling them up. Not to worry my arse. Barely slept a bloody wink that night.


25th October 2012

Ah, bless you!
Your blogs are keeping me entertained, Kathryn! I think you were channelling me in that last sentence! ;-) Happy travels, and keep safe, see you soon.
28th October 2012

haha! Yes Em, I didn't think about at the time but now you mention it, that does sound like something you would say!

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