After an 0430 wake-up, a boxed meal, travel in a bus, and three tours, it was only about 1030, so I thought some PT would be good. (Actually, this was in the plan all along, but this is what I told the cadets) They knew I was joking, though, and are learning to tolerate my sarcasm--mostly because they don't have a choice. They were enthusiastic about this hike that Kean told us was a local favorite in a national park just next door to the ACCB rescue center.
The trail is 1.5 km long and climbs about 600 feet to a beautiful river and waterfall that has carvings on the rocks dating back more than a thousand years.
The trail was sandy,but very well-maintained with workers keeping it clear. Most of the large trees had species tags and other info along the way, too. Deforestation is a huge issue in Cambodia, so any attempts to protect the forests is a big deal. These exotic trees can sell for tens of thousands of dollars apiece for very high-end furniture in the Far East, so the incentives to cut them down in the poor country are great.
The trail was also marked every 100 meters going up which was fun. It was an easy but, as is everything in Cambodia, a very sweaty activity. We were rewarded when we got to the top with a beautiful waterfall.
After climbing above the falls, we came to the carvings/sculpture and also learned from Kean about the heritage of the river. This is near the source of the Siem Reap River that flows through Angkor. The riverbed is lined with what rock sculptures of over 1000 penises. Yes, you read that right. Although they're now eroded and just look like circles of stone in the riverbed, the ancients here believed that the fertile symbol of these thousands penises would make the water equally fertile and guarantee good crops downstream. Yeah, right. Anyway, it was a fun story.
We did enjoy seeing the carving in the rocks around the river and it was easy to think about how this must've been a great get away for the local royalty to swim and cavort in the cool waters--and penises.