Thursday, 25 July 2013

Elephant Valley Project (Cambodia)

on July 3rd we crossed the border to Cambodia, it was a real disappointing experience. All over the region the "slash and burn" more rainforest again. the old big trees are existing not any more. now only monoculturing,  with coutchouc plantations. it is so sad ! 

Well, cycled to Stung Treng, then further to Kratie. a little bit along the Mekong, but nothing special. 

When we arrived in Kratie, a small nasty and dirty city, we decided to take a bus to Sen Monorom, where we wanted to visit the Elephant Valley ( Jack Highwood , a British man, runs this project. He had a mahout-education in Thailand and he wants to protect these amazing animals in Cambodia. Many elephants are used for logging or other heavy work and the owners are usually poor families. So you can imagine the status of the elephants: hard working, bad food, owner has no money for medical support. no good combination !  in the valley the elephants can recover and Jack supports the owners, while their elephant is in the sanctuary. Or he buys the elephants. In a big  areal the elephants can be in their original enviroment. As they were separated as a baby from their mother, they did not learn how an elephant behaves. Now they learn how to take a bath, how to throw mud on their back, protecting them from flies or to harvest trees to get their own food. 
As a visitor you pay 60 USD for a one-day visit. it is a lot of money (average income per year 630 USD!) , but Jack informs you exactly for what the money is used for. The whole day we walked around with these beautiful giants and we enjoyed every minute. We helped to wash them and sometimes they were very snoopy and came very closed to us. Wow, what an experience ! we were very glad that we had the possibility to visit and support this project !

Taka, volunteer from Japan, was our guide. good job !!

Bildunterschrift hinzufügen

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Laos Part III ( from Vientiane to the border)

09.06. - 15.06.2013 (Vientiane)

after two days of cycling, the weather was very hot, we arrived in Vientiane, the capital of Laos.  ( We stayed one night in a guesthouse, but it was full, so we got an upgrade for the hotel next to the hostel with swimming pool. not bad. we applied for the Cambodian and Thai visa and we had a very good time with Bärbel and Johan.
We did some sightseeing, the Phat That, the History Museum and the Army Museum, but the most important "sight" was COPE... see extra report !

Phat That

16.06. - 03.07.2013 (on the way to the south)
Together with Barbel and Johan we startet quite early to go further south. 25km far away from Vientiane, there is a Buddha park with with an amazing number of different Buddha sculptures.
We took some pictures and continued our trip. in the evening there was no guesthouse or hotel, so we did camping below a bamboo hut. we spent another night together, which was very funny.
the following day we started together, but Bärbel and Johan were much faster so we said "Goodbye".
in the evening. we had a campsite at the Mekong and it began to rain very strong.

on June 18th we cycled 76 km and wanted to stay in Pakkading. We stopped in front of a hotel, because I had sweat in my eyes.
Somebody called our names and, what a surprise, Bärbel and Johan stayed in this hotel. Johan felt not very well so they were not able to cycle their daily work.
the next day we did 106 km together ! what a trip ! we had another night in a guesthouse, very new and good food in the evening.

on June 20th we arrived in Thakek. first we had a delicious meal at a restaurant and then Johan and me searched for an accommodation. It took us two hours to find a proper one. at the Mekong Hotel, which was not to expensive, we spent two nights.

two days later it was now time to say Goodbye again ! Bärbel and Johan headed over the Friendship Bridge to Thailand and we headed to Pakxe.

we had such a great time with them and we hope to see them again in New Zealand !

after four more days of cycling long distances through a boring landscape (ricefields, buffalos, ricefields...), on my birthday 116 km, we arrived in Pakxe. from Astrid I got a German flag, coffee and blueberries ! terrible nice ! Astrid, thank you so much :-)

we stayed there for six days and had to relax. the last weeks had been very tough.

Visiting the Bolaven Plateau

Laos is wellknown for its coffee and due to the fact, that coffee is my most favourite drink, we hired two small motobikes and did a two-days trip to the plateau. first we stopped at a small plantation where the farmer family invited us to test their coffee, then we watched a gorgeous waterfall. in the late afternoon we arrived at the Sinouk Resort. how beautiful !  between coffee plantations they built a small lake with waterfall, botanic garden and chalets. Of course, I had coffee and delicious food there . we had to drive 30 km to Tad Lo, but it became quite exciting . at 6:30 pm there is sunset and the lights of our motobikes were very bad. we had to search quite long for an accommodation, and fortunetly we found one. Michael from CZ runs a guesthouse and Emanuel from Austria offers self-roasted coffee. So yummy :-))
in the late afternoon of the following day we drove back to Pakxe.

on the first of July we started to Cambodia. we enjoyed the visit on Khong Island (part of the 4000 islands). Just before crossing the border on July 3rd we met Phetdavanh, the local manager of the plant quarantine. He spoke German very well, because he studied in the 1980ies in Leipzig. What a surprise ! half an hour we crossed the border.

we had a great time in Laos: 

52 days (21days on the bike, total 1750 km), with gorgeous landscape, steep upclimbs, boattrips, long, flat and monotonous areas with nothing but buffalos and ricefeelds, nice people, especially Bas from NL and Bärbel and Johan (Gemany & Netherlands)
by the way: a little bit disappointing was the food: there are many ricefields, but it was very difficult to get rice in the restaurants in the countryside. only ricenoodles and some vegetables , too less for hungry cyclists. and the restaurants in the cities with a low variety, too.

But we can highly recommend Laos. Many poor people, but so friendly !

Goodbye Laos, Welcome Cambodia !


campsite with Bärbel and Johan

coffee !

Sinouk Resort, Bolaven Plateau

guesthouse in Tad Lo

Emanuel from Austria, roasting coffee

a stony saltie tried to get Astrid for lunch ;-)

Johan producing a flagstaff

Johan tried to climb the "Great Wall" ; no joke, this was the name of the "sight" ;-)

ants, not our best friends....

no comment ;-)

protecting our food from ants

view from Khong Island

ferry to Khong Island

Phetdavanh, who studied in the former GDR (Leipzig)

Laos/Cambodia border

Bärbel and Astrid preparing the cameras