Snow chains

snow chainsIt promised to be a pleasant morning, the temperature around 20 degrees, the sun just broke through the clouds and the cars drove up the hillside with snow chains. In the middle of the road a lorry was parked, the wheels sunk till the axles, the driver had tried several times to get out by driving back and forward, but it had been too slippery. It was stuck there and blocked the road, a new route being formed around it. Another lorry was sliding down the hill sideways, just in time the driver managed to get some grip to lorry got stuckturn around corner halfway down the slope instead of hitting the rocks. Going up the hill a minivan was pushed forward by three of its passengers, even the snow chains were not enough to drive it to the top by its own power. Our minivan driver didn’t dare to go down the hill, so we had to walk, or better glide, down and wait there for another car.

My first visit to a place outside of Phnom Penh started well. slippery roadMondulkiri is often called the “Switzerland of Cambodia”. That’s not because such good chocolate is produced there (although they do produce great coffee smelling like chocolate!), or because they have banking secrecy or assemble great watches, but because it’s so mountainous. These are not the real sharp peaks of the Alps rising up over 2,000 meters, but gently sloping ones of about 800 meters. To be honest, the area looks more like the Ardennes in Belgium or the Eifel in Germany than it looks like Switzerland, landschap met wolken kleinbut it turns out rain can have the same effect on traffic as snow. It rained every afternoon and evening in Mondulkiri, and it rained hard. My shoes couldn’t take it anymore after three days, the soles fell off, so I had to leave them in the trash, but the effect on the roads was worse. A lot of the thoroughfares and even a lot of the smaller roads are tarmacked or have a surface of hardened earth, but that’s not the case for all roads in Mondulkiri. landscape in mondulkiriThe roads that are not hardened, turn into slides after the rain, because the earth contains a lot of clay. Add a slope to that and snow chains become necessary to get somewhere. ???????????????????????????????I didn’t go around on a moped (I do have my Cambodian driver’s license now!), although there’s enough to be seen in the surroundings. In this season the risks of falling is way too high, I’ll do that some time in the dry season.

Instead we went walking. Everywhere it was green. A lot still was the lush old forest and undergrowth, but regularly the green of cassava leaves or rubber plantations as well. stream in mondulkiriThrough the green the red earth was visible, rich earth with a lot of minerals, earth that can be used for a lot of things, one of the main causes of conflicts in the area. The rivers, streams and waterfalls completed the color palette of nature. Not blue here, the fast streaming water takes too much sediments for that, but a lot of nuances between beige and orange. During daytime it was warm, but at night I felt the cool on my skin, for the first time in this country wearing a shirt with long sleeves and sleep under a blanket. lake in moondulkiriNice and worth the trip. Only the roads…

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