Meeting the Families

Phnom Kulen Travel Blog

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Breakfast on Phnom Kulen.

We were up quite early at 6 AM because our main luggage had to be taken off the camp site at 6:30 since vans and busses were not allowed to enter the national park after that. We had a nice breakfast at the tables out in the open air and then all went down to the waterfall. Now, I thought we'd seen the waterfall when we showered under it yesterday, but there proved to be another much bigger one further down. This one was absolutely amazing. One of the best waterfalls I've seen and you could swim in the pool beneath the water that crashed down from 30 meters above. Seemingly this waterfall has been used in the Tombraider movie with Angelina Jolie. After a great refreshing swim we packed our stuff and were off for the final 7 km of the trekking.

We eventually reached the other side of Phnom Kulen were steep stairs were leading down to ground level.

The higher Kulen waterfall, where I had the best shower of my life yesterday.
Halfway down the hill we arrived at a lovely little temple, Wat Chou, with a vihar (prayer hall), some shrines and stone animals. At this temple a spring emerged that provided what was considered holy water before continuing it's way to the Tonle Sap lake. After a short rest at this peaceful spot we continued our way down the steps to ground level, being rewarded with some amazing views over the landscape along the way.

Now it was time to visit the two families where we would be building the houses. Arriving at the first family's house we saw that most of the hard stuff had already been done in the previous days. The foundations had been laid and the main structure of the house had already been set up. Our job was to finish the walls and floorboards over the next couple of days.

Down to the lower waterfall.
MAG had teamed up with a Jesuit organisation for this project. The Jesuits had selected two poor families in dire need of help and MAG was providing the budget from our donations and us volunteers to help build the houses. The first family consisted of four people, with another baby on the way in the coming month. Seemingly sometimes the Jesuits also selected families that weren't necessarily harmed by landmines. In case of the first family one of the two sons was disabled and tied to a wheelchair. It was quite remarkable that the Jesuit guide for the building project was missing a leg though.

After Dr. Brett fooled around with the kids for a while (they were fascinated with his enormous height and they followed him like the Pied Piper) we walked 3 km to the next family.

The stunning lower waterfall.
This proved to be a lot harder than the jungle trekking of the past days since there was no protection of the sun that was beating down hard on us on this hottest time of day. The second family had two daughters, one son and the husband had lost his leg to a landmine quite some time ago. He was wearing a prosthetic and had gotten used to that so well that it was hard to spot his disability. After having another one of those delicious packed lunches in baskets we made our way back to the hotel for a well-deserved beer and shower, but not before Dave had given us a briefing on tomorrows work on the two houses. We were all quite excited to get started on that the next day.

We had a couple of hours off before dinner but I was tired and couldn't be bothered to go into town now, so decided to stay in the restaurant, have some beers and do some blogging. At half past seven we had dinner in the Indochina restaurant, including some great fish curry. Back in the hotel we had one final beer before calling it a day. By now I was getting used to the new time zone and it was easier to get to sleep.

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Breakfast on Phnom Kulen.
Breakfast on Phnom Kulen.
The higher Kulen waterfall, where …
The higher Kulen waterfall, where…
Down to the lower waterfall.
Down to the lower waterfall.
The stunning lower waterfall.
The stunning lower waterfall.
The stunning lower waterfall.
The stunning lower waterfall.
At the Phnom Kulen waterfall.
At the Phnom Kulen waterfall.
At the Phnom Kulen waterfall.
At the Phnom Kulen waterfall.
The team at the second trekking da…
The team at the second trekking d…
Descending Phnom Kulen.
Descending Phnom Kulen.
The view from halfway down Phnom K…
The view from halfway down Phnom …
Temple at Phnom Kulen.
Temple at Phnom Kulen.
Interesting combination of Hinduis…
Interesting combination of Hindui…
Me at Phnom Kulen.
Me at Phnom Kulen.
View from the slope of Phnom Kulen.
View from the slope of Phnom Kulen.
The first of two houses we will fi…
The first of two houses we will f…
Meeting the first family.
Meeting the first family.
The doctor scaring the local kids.
The doctor scaring the local kids.
Meeting the second family.
Meeting the second family.
Lunch break at the second house.
Lunch break at the second house.
Another tasty lunch.
Another tasty lunch.
Lunch at House #2.
Lunch at House #2.
Breakfast at Phnom Kulen.
Breakfast at Phnom Kulen.
Phnom Kulen
photo by: edsander