I tend to get over ambitious when travelling, that and I grandly over estimate my fitness levels. At home I am often too lazy to walk the fifteen minutes to the local shop to get ice cream and while I do have bouts of activity I’m very happy to reserve the act of running for towards buses and away from murderers. That said, as soon as I get away I start having lofty ideas about what my body is up for. So that’s how I found myself on a two day mountainous trek in Sen Monorem.
There are so many options for trekking in Sen Monorem, my only preference was to get a local Bunong guide as I had read that having a local guide made it that much easier to interact with the Bunong villagers who live in the mountains. Mr Tree of Tree Lodge guest house organised the trek for Nina and myself and we set off on the back of motorbikes to meet our guide Taek.
Stumbling across river crossings, panting my way uphill and sliding uselessly down hill, constantly tripping as the young boy effortlessly guides us walking only in flip flops. I started to realise what a bad idea this had been. Sweating in the Cambodian sun I admired waterfalls aplenty, the incredible old trees and rolling hills and the sounds of the forest interrupted by our guides booming Nokia tune.
We finally got to the waterfall side camp where we were to sleep, had an amazing meal prepared by our guides and played Presidente’ ( a French game similar to shithead) and were encouraged to sup the local rice wine. If you took a cheap tequila and mixed it with turpentine then you kind of have he taste of this homemade brew served from a murky looking old coke bottle.
When after rice wine and penalty shots a stumble down to the creek to hunt for frogs when suggested seemed a most excellent plan. Perching drunkenly over the water, holding my torch in my mouth and uselessly swatting at prawns in the stream I felt the water seep into my socks. The second guide Wing who had been taking intense pleasure all day in jumping out and making us all scream, handed Nina a “leaf” and pushed a live and very active crab into her hands. As Nina’s shrieks mingled with his laughter he leapt exuberantly off in search of more creatures to scare us with
Hammocks failed to live up to their idyllic image as the pressing cold of the forest prevented anyone from getting any sleep. I hasn’t realised that Cambodia could even be this cold. It was like sleeping outside in Doncaster on Christmas Eve.
On the second day we walked up to a Bunong rice paddy and village and met some adorable children then swam with elephants in the river. I’ve swum with elephants before and I absolutely love it. I think it’s something that I could do every day for a year and still not get bored. Elephants are just amazing. I would like one to be my friend.
I’d so definitely recommend this hike. It was knackering and sleep was in short supply but it was genuinely beautiful, not too challenging for someone who doesn’t eat as much chocolate and exercise as infrequently as me, and just genuinely great to see the natural landscape. The sense of achievement when I finally got back to the hostel and had that first ice cold beer was amazing.
Cost of trekking with Tree Lodge
$20 per person, per day for groups of less than four costs go down with bigger groups.
Everything is provided for the two days, food, water etc.