Mondulkiri: Photos from an expedition to the provinces

At the end of our first day in Mondulkiri, clouds gathered over the "sea forest."

At the end of our first day in Mondulkiri atop a mountain, clouds gathered over the “sea forest” and threatened rain.  A downpour did arrive in town late at night.  (Click to enlarge all photos.)

The biggest laughs came near the end of our brief visit last week to Mondulkiri — the name of a city and verdant province northeast of Phnom Penh and adjacent to Vietnam — during the three-day Cambodia New Year holiday.

On a detour to avoid an impossibly pitted and dusty road under construction on the city’s outskirts, our car took us in the dark along a narrow street that parallels the Mekong River, on which cooled banks are cultivated patches of lettuce.

One relatively recent tradition of Khmer New Year is for clusters of boisterous youths to congregate alongside roadways, many of the kids with faces besmeared with flour or powder, some dripping wet and all of them demanding monetary tributes in a Cambodian version of Halloween: Pay up or Continue reading

To locals there is nothing like Cambodian New Year

Dangerous and exhausting as this transportation looks as the New Year approaches, sometimes passengers dare death by riding atop vehicles.

Dangerous and exhausting as this van transportation looked Friday before the New Year, sometimes passengers dare death by riding atop vehicles.  They reflect how powerful is the tug to go home.

Phnom Penh is emptying out as I write this, just before the start of the Cambodian New Year. The exodus has begun.

The holiday is a three-day celebration when the Khmer people head for party points, seaside resorts and, most important to them, the rural provinces and farms that mean “home” to them. Consider this sad post on Facebook from a student/waiter I know at the cafe where he works:

Why all of u give me alone? I’m really lonely….. All of u can go to ur homeland n happy but I can’t…. I really miss my homeland so much. I want to meet my family…. What should I do? How can I do?

Siam Reap, where Continue reading