We drove all the way from Phnom Penh via the Battambang road over Pursat Province towards Skun and then to Kampong Tumo. The rising water of flooding was everywhere and at places the water was level with the highway. The way it is raining now it will not be long and the water will be over the highway. May people already died of this bad flooding this year and water is rising still. Luckily where we are heading it is a bit higher elevation and then I talk about 50m in elevation.........
From Kampong Tumo we took the dirt road to Kabal Domrey in Kampong Tom Province. This is a small town which get all there support from the very big rubber plantations around. All the forest are being cut away and rubber is the now money around here. Sad to say that the poor people do not benefit at all from this venture. Labor is cheap and people need to work for peanuts. The dirt road up there was bad cause of all the trucks driving back and forth with wood being cut in the forest. The best thing is to push one gear back and stand while do it as fast as you can. Like they say:" you miss 1 and hit 10 more potholes." We arrived at our safe haven at the small church in Kabal Domrey. this is where my home is, away from home. People here are true and friendly people.
Our first trip took us to a small village called Relose. It is about 25km away from Kabal Domrey but take about 3 hours on bike. Locals made small bridges and footpaths with wood planks and charge you almost every 5km. Off course you can take the other road but it is so full of mud and water that being on the planks, makes things much easier. the best bike here is the Dailem 100cc. Everyone drive one like this with 4 people or 180litres of diesel on the back, through these forests. Talk about tough guys.... We had our moments of joy in the mud and took some nice video to proof it.
But we were here with a cause. We visit Relose on a regular basis to deliver some much needed medicines to people that do not have access to any kind of medicines. The sad part is that the government made a rule that you cannot buy Malaria meds over the counter anymore as they want people to go to the clinics to be tested and there they will receive their meds. Well it is a good idea in the cities and big towns with clinics. But for people out here there is no money to go out and get service like that. So they just live with it. Water here is also a big problem, not that they have to little of it but the problem is that they use Mercury in the water to fish out the gold and that lands back into the groundwater which they stand in the whole day working. Here they dig for gold which they sell for U$12 per ounce. They also dig like rats on the side of the mountain to get some crystals in the hope to sell them in town for a better prize. No we also know that the middleman makes the money and the real worker receive so little......So life here is a hard one.
Our goal is just to befriend the people and love them for who they are. Whole families is in the jungle right now and we cannot even reach them, what to say give them something. The jungle is full of people trying to find some gold to get some form of money. Already we see them friendlier and so happy to us foreigners, helping them. there are no mercy here, everyone for himself, so by showing kindness is a wonderful thing.
The next day took us to 2 villages, Onta Puon and Rum Jopon village. the road today was worse as there are not bridges over all the rivers and that makes riding very hard. We hop, skip and jump our way through most of the morning to get to the first villages. Only a few people were here as this is holiday right now, but all of this trouble is even good for one soul who needs meds. We first got caught in heavy rain but could wait it out under shelter, right beside the mountain. Such beauty is not everywhere to find. Wish so I could share it with more people. God really makes things so special.
We went on from there to Rum Jopon, which we visited already a lot of times. We start to know people around here already. It is nice to see all the familiar faces again. Joshua is a military medic and John was trained by me, so I had nothing to do...... Who never thought that would happen to me, nice time to sit back and enjoy things around me. I hope that we can do this many more times as we see the people opening up towards us.
On our way back, I fell really hard as we were playing around and I did not see a tree root while coming around a bend. Thought the front tyre will stick but the root was to slippy. Well the end was that I fell down and hurt my knee and elbow. Knee guards only protect that much. So the rest of the way was a bit painful but we still had to cover a big distance back. This place is not for sissies at all. No pain no gain...... Well I must say that I was glad to see the end of the forest as it was late already and all of us were wasted after a good day of riding.
The next day proof to be the most challenging one of them all. While driving through the rubber plantation, it was slippery like snot, I lost control of my bike and fell down at neck breaking speed of 5km/h and hid the ground so hard that after a week, my leg is still swollen and my elbow is still without skin. While I fell down, Josh tried to stopped and he also hid the deck. Grahame, ahead of us, fell down so hard that he broke his bike's handlebars. Well he was out of action for the day. We got him a taxi and put his bike inside and he ride back. The 3 of us then took the 270km back home. It was a bit of a painful sit later on the highway, where we had to play chicken with cars coming our way. Driving in Cambodia is really crazy and it takes nerves of steel driving on these roads.
thank God we made it back home safely. Grahame arrived the next day with a taxi. By now the bikes are ready for our next adventure. Will keep you posted on that.