Ok, sorry for the lack of blogs but we have not had internet and for some reason blogspot won't work on my phone's wifi, but we are finally somewhere with internet cafes so here we are with another string of updates!
The morning after our trek, we woke up to stormy weather. Instead of going to the waterfalls with Cham, we hung out and read for the morning. Yes, Jason has been reading like a fiend, which is new, but also very convenient, as I have been reading like it is my job. So we spent the morning reading and eating (which we have become very good at, as asian people eat 5-6 times a day) and then decided to head into town when the rain slowed. We hopped on a couple of motorbikes and got rides to market. We ate delicious burritos at a local restaurant that also served some really delicious tea. Jason wanted to know where to buy some, so we got directions and headed down the street. On our way, we bumped into Cham, who was taking the day off to hang out! We showed us around and took us to buy tea, fruit, snacks for traveling the next day, and candy to give to children. After we stocked up, Cham squished Jason and I on the back of his bike and drove us back to Nature Lodge, where we were staying. We said our goodbyes and relaxed in the common area for the night to get ready for our early bus the next morning.
After a nice rest in our beautiful, hillside bungalow, we woke up, had a hearty breakfast and boarded our mini bus to Ratanikiri, a northern province in Cambodia known for it's waterfalls and coffee production. We were not looking forward to a ride on a minibus, which is quite small and pretty tight of a squeeze. We had no idea what we were in for. The minibus is supposed to fit 12 people. We had 22 people riding in ours, but only if you count the guy riding on the outside of the bus, holding onto the mirror so he didn't fly off. We kept stopping and adding more people and at one point we had a woman sitting in the trunk so they had to tie it shut with a rope. It was a ridiculous few hours. We finally stopped at the halfway point, at a town called Kratie (pronounced Kra-chee). No one spoke English, and we were waiting for our next bus to leave but every time we asked when it was leaving, someone would say a different time. Finally, after waiting for 3 hours, we tried to communicate to someone that we were going to eat quickly and be right back. After a quick lunch, we walked back to our bus....that was no longer there.
I got ready to cry and Jason immediately ran into the office and started yelling the name of our location over and over again. Finally someone looked at us, took out a phone and motioned for us to go outside. All of a sudden two motorbikes zoomed up in front of us and told us to hop on. A little too trusting, we jumped right on and sped down the street, not really knowing where we were headed. Miraculously, out of nowhere, we saw our minibus sitting on the side of the road waiting for us! We gleefully boarded the bus full of people laughing at us and set off on our way for another few hours.
On the bus, I was sitting next to a Cambodian man who spoke pretty decent English. We began to talk about his life and I found out he works for a small NGO in Cambodia and was traveling to the Northeast to establish some more infrastructure to bring more order to the provinces. It was so interesting to meet people from all over the world who are working towards different humanitarian causes. We talked about how he met his wife and how he never finished his last year at University because he was sent to the countryside by the Khmer Rouge. I can't get over the impact that the war had on the country and how incredibly resilient the people are.
Our minibus drove us right to our hotel, a beautiful place called Tree Top Lodge. We got a beautiful room with a private bathroom for the whopping price of $7. We stuffed our faces with yet another amazing meal and PASSED OUT.
Miss you all so much and can't wait to see you in a little less than a month!