For the last two weeks we have been trying to hastily fix the road before the wet season totally sets in. While the bridge over the creek is finished, there is about 150 yards of swampland to cross on both sides of the creek which is turning out to be as impossible to negotiate as the river is in the wet season. We had been negotiating with a construction company for months trying to get them to come help us make a proper gravel road and they had been putting us off, always telling us to wait “one more week.” Finally the wet season set in and they told us they could do it for us next year! Yay. So we have been trying to make the road usable. With little road building equipment to work with, we have been forced to become very creative. Since we can’t haul gravel, we are using old logs to lay crossways in the road across the swamp and then lay a row of boards to drive that match the width of the tires. Telling my dad about this, he told me that they used to use that style in the US in swampy areas and it is called “corduroy road.”
At the moment, we are about three fourths finished with that project. We lay about 30 yards a day, and there is about 250-300 yards total to cover.
Last week we had a big rainstorm all night long and by morning the river had overflowed its banks. Since I couldn’t take the pickup to work, me and my four workers walked to the bridge site and found our corduroy road under about 50 cm of water. The actual car bridge was under about 4 meters of water. At any rate, we didn’t get much work done that day. Luckily by the next day we could work again as it didn’t rain anymore and the water had gone back down so we could drive across again.
We have stacks and stacks of lumbar at the building site which we hope to start putting into a “headquarters” very soon. We took a truckload of old wood from our house in a big old Russian Army truck – call an “Elephant Truck” in Khmer. The truck left Rovieng at 6 am and arrived to the village about 11 am. As we approached the mountain, the truck kept getting bogged despite the fact that it had a winch and a 4 wheel drive. So we kept offloading lumbar along the way in piles until the truck was finally light enough to make it to the mountain. He only got back to Rovieng at 11 pm that night. It was a well earned $225 for Mr. Mao.
Since it rains all the time, I have had to trade in my steel toed boots for thongs which I end up tossing straight away and going barefoot for the rest of the day. I think my feet are getting tougher because I walk around barefoot in the thorns and I don’t seem to notice. The other day, I took a 20 km hike through the jungle in shorts and thongs. Which I only thought Australians knew how to do.
Last week we said good bye to Savuth. I was very grateful for his 3 months of help and support. I think I worked him half to death because he went back to Phnom Penh and spent the next three days in bed with the flu. Thank you Savuth!!
If the nice dry weather holds I’ll be able to finish the road next week and start working on the headquarters. We’ll see.
Future site for the Lodge