Cambodia Sen Monorom

Mondilkiri is a small town in the east of Cambodia, surrounded by jungles. We came here to do a jungle trek to find the endangered yellow creasted gibbons and black shank douks, both very cute primates.
We arrived in Mondulkiri and checked into our wooden bungalow for the night, the gaps in the walls were plenty big for a snake which kept Lucy up all night! We wandered around the small town which was not built for tourists which was nice and went to book our 2 day gibbon trip at Heffalump Cafe. 2 more people booked on to the 1st day of the trip which made it really fun!
At 4.15am the next day we were setting off for our Gibbon adventure! The jeep took us to the camp and at 5.30am we began the trek. We listened to the Gibbons calls to find out where they were in the jungle. The paths started out as semi path like, but before long we were wading through trees and bushes and trying to avoid the leeches which kept landing on us! Before long we heard large crashes and swaying of trees and saw a large female Gibbon swinging through the trees, followed by some males. We just about managed to see them in our binoculars before they swung off again. It was amazing to see them close up, they have yellow cheeks which makes them distinctive and the females are a sandy brown colour. There are only 2 families living in this area and they can only be found in small parts of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. We continued to wade through the jungle, past elephant destroyed paths, spotting so much wildlife on the way such as flying lizards and many weird furry caterpillars and bugs. As we walked we kept spotting the gibbons as they quickly swung around the jungle. We then saw the black shanked douks which are larger than the gibbons, grey in colour with log white tails. Again we heard them crashing around before we saw them. This time we got more a glimpse as they seemed like they were in less of a hurry than the speedy gibbons. We continued our trek and came across more gibbons and douks, getting better glimpses of them as they swung around the trees. We trekked to a beautiful waterfall and even enjoyed a baguette, laughing cow cheese (double for Lucy as Tom still won’t eat cheese!) and bananas for a jungle breakfast.
Having trekked or six hours to see the primates, we headed back for a break, which included Mondulkiri coffee from a cafetière, tea and a full lunchtime spread. This was also the time for us to enjoy the compost toilet which allowed the occupant to look out into the forest whilst using. Despite being in the jungle the facilities were more luxurious than the bungalows that we’d stayed in the night before.
After the break we headed for the jungle to get more of a look at the douks. The gibbons don’t tend to stay out in the afternoon, but we managed to catch one out and about. We caught sight of more primate activity and happily returned back to camp for evening. Peik and Rosa left us at this point, so it was just us, Pech and his wife who had arrived that evening. Yet again we were served delicious food and had a lovely meal with the couple. We were ready for a sleep just as a snake worked its way into the communal cabin – Lucy was not going to sleep well tonight!
Day two started at 5am as we drank coffee before heading into the jungle. This time round we saw less primates, but had a lot longer with them. First we saw the doucs swinging, sitting, playing, pushing and eating. The binoculars were so good that we could even see their cheeky little faces. At this point we were pretty content, and as the gibbons hadn’t called much in the morning we weren’t expecting to see them – how wrong we were as we stumbled across the perfect viewpoint. Not a single tree blocked our view as we saw the gibbons flying around, eating and holding on for an eternity before making their move. We couldn’t have hoped for a better watching experience as we had about half an hour of this clear view.
We spent the rest of the day refreshing ourselves before heading back to town, stopping on the way for some bird watching, something we weren’t expecting to enjoy as much as we did. We saw a whole host of beautiful species, with tropical colours including the constantly flapping sunbird.
Another night back in town at the bungalow and we were ready to play with elephants. We’d selected a place that allowed previously domestic elephants the chance to be free. The elephants lived in the forest and were no longer used for work apart from to show to tourists. The elephants had been amazingly well looked after and any stressful or strenuous activity was strictly prohibited. We went to meet the elephants and fed them sugarcane. The elephant called Princess was too lazy to move her trunk so you had to put the sugarcane straight in her mouth, Happy Lucky liked her space so she would grab the sugarcane with her trunk. Having being fed, the elephants then mooched about, eating, scratching against trees, fanning insects with branches, showering themselves in mud and generally trampling the forest. After our observations we had an amazing lunch including pumpkin cooked with egg which was incredible, smokey an full of flavour even though it was so simple. Lunchtime was followed by washing. We swam in the river with the elephants and washed them clean. Again the elephants were being pampered as bath time was followed by another meal, this time bananas.
We’d had an incredible few days playing around with wildlife and could have spent a whole lot longer in Mondulkiri if we weren’t pressed for time and needing to get to Vietnam.

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