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Koh Kong, Chi Phat

Trekking

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If only you could see the view that I'm writing this blog entry from. We're just heading down the river on a wooden boat with tree lined embankments and lingering morning cloud mist in the trees. We've had a great couple of days in Chi Phat and now the boat is taking us further down the river for two hours so we can catch a bus to Phnom Penh.

Chi Phat is a village community that were one of the last Khmer Rouge run areas and when they were free from the regime they struggled to know what to do next. A lot of the locals took to poaching the wildlife to make money. The charity Wildlife Alliance has been working with the community to educate them on wildlife reservation and helped to turn their village into an eco-tourist area. Everybody benefits from the charity; women cook your food for you,families provide tourists with guesthouses or home stays, local men take you on a variety of tours (treks, cycling, boats, wildlife spotting, camping) and its all run through a central visitor centre. Profits are invested in park rangers that gather up the numerous poachers snares that are still in use. It's a great community environment.

We decided to do a two day trek with overnight stay in the forest. I was really apprehensive, I'm not the best camper back home with hot water and electricity on tap. We were a group of 5; we were the two English, Alan an Irish man and his French wife Florence and Anran, a New Zealand student. Everybody was really nice and we spent most of our time in Chi Phat together.

We each had to carry our own backpack with hammock, rain coat, blanket and dry clothes in it (plus sun cream, mosquito spray and other essentials). It was so heavy and sweaty. We trekked 20km through the jungle in sweltering heat. Because there were other people in the group it kept my moaning down as didn't want to be the ginger winger! Our lunch stop was great; our three guides made a fire, then boiled rice and stir fried lots of veg in soy sauce and spices. It was really tasty! We didn't see lots of wildlife because the monsoon rain had made the animals retreat into the thicker jungle. We heard the call of gibbons, saw spiders, unusual newts and a multicoloured gecko. There were loads of leaches. I won a beer because I was the first to get one stuck on me. We were all constantly having to flick them off before they got in our clothing. Gross!

I couldn't believe where we were camping. It was much more than I was expecting; a covered raised shack that our hammocks were to go under, with a view of the river and even a ceramic toilet (no flush). There was a waterfall 5 minutes walk away,which looked so dangerous with lots of white water because of the monsoon rain. Our guide took us to a corner that whipped water around a small whirlpool rather than down stream so we all had a refreshing and well deserved dip.

That night we had another freshly cooked feast and gathered around candles drinking Alan's rum for the evening. Just before going to bed our guide decided to tell us that there were wild elephants nearby, as well as leopards and snakes...just what you wanted to hear before sleeping in the jungle. My night in the hammock was surprisingly comfortable; I slept reasonably well under the mosquito net and it was quite cool at night, which made a refreshing change. Jason of course slept really well, he always does.

The next day consisted of a 14km hike with another waterfall stop. By the end of the two days I have never wanted a shower more. I was so sweaty and dirty, and had also acquired moisture blisters on my feet. Owch! I also slept like a log. The two days had been hard work but definitely worth it and would recommend to anybody. There is still loads to do even if you don't want to camp and the community is worth supporting.

Posted by bloorsontour 10:00 Archived in Cambodia Tagged chi phat Comments (2)

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