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Kirirom National Park, I'll Be Back!

Have you ever experienced the feeling of bursting into anger and laughter at the same time?

View SEA Trip by Any Means on automidori's travel map.

All the way from Phnom Penh to Kirirom National Park and back,
September 4th 2011

I rented a car with driver from my hotel, Khmeroyal Hotel. It was the same driver as the one who picked me up at The Sinh Tourist's office the day before. That day he was very kind. The next few hours when I occasionally met him at the hotel's lobby, he was still the same friendly guy. However, today, maybe he had gotten up from the wrong side of his bed. Not long after we started to move, he told me that I have to pay for the toll fare. I was surprised, because I had regarded toll fare included in the price agreed between me and Mr. Phana, the manager. Later on when I rechecked my email, I realized that I didn't state the item "toll fare" in our negotiation. I only wrote "gasoline, driver's meal, driver's fee". Actually when I mentioned those 3 items, I wanted to make sure that the car-rent cost offered to me included "everything". However, I failed to mention everything. Ah. That's my lesson. Next time when I mean "everything", I must remember to mention everything.

Anyway, haven't been rechecking my email, I told my driver that "toll fare" wasn't mentioned as part of the negotiation between me and Mr. Phana -- which was true. I emphasized that Mr. Phana didn't tell me that I would have to pay for the toll fare separately. My driver responded nothing to that, and when we reached the toll gate, he took out his own money. So I concluded that the matter was settled.

The journey from my hotel towards the outskirts of Phnom Penh was interesting. On the way, my driver stopped to buy gas. Meanwhile I crossed the street to a mini mart. I needed face foam, milk, and yoghurt. I had already run out of my own resources. The stuffs inside this mini mart were a bit beyond my expectation. I could find most of my daily-comfort-of-life stuffs here. Phnom Penh isn't as left behind as it might seem to be. It looks like that if I have to live in Phnom Penh, I wouldn't have to change the way I use to e.g. take a shower, do my make up, diet, and so on.

Face foam in a small container wasn't available. So I just bought yoghurt and milk, all by Vinamilk. Many of the goods in this mini mart I see are imported from either Vietnam or Thailand. But the prices are reasonable anyway.

All through the way until we reached the toll gate, I made a video recording with my cellphone, Nokia N86 8MP.

We are by now outside Phnom Penh city. I loved the pure and natural scenery.

After approximately one and a half hour, we entered Kirirom National Park. Instead of taking me to the main gate where the waterfall is, he took me round and round. At the beginning I saw a sign on the right, but he went left. I didn't say anything to that, because I thought he must know better. We continued to venture deeper and deeper into the woods. I had to pay an entrance ticket. I gave 1 USD and got 1,000 riel back. So the entrance ticket is about 1,000 riel for me and my driver, I think.

The road through Kirirom National Park was full-asphalted and smooth. At first I enjoyed the view of pine trees lining on my left and right twisting higher and higher the ground. Bright sunshine pierced through the top of the trees. We passed by a temple. Occasionally I saw a little boy or a little girl kneeling by the side of the street begging. It was rather shocking for me, because I never experienced so in Vietnam and Thailand. I saw some beggars the day before, at the park in front of the royal palace. But, the children didn't kneel, clasp their hands, and kiss the ground. Anyway, much to my relief, these kid beggars appeared to be perfectly harmless. When my driver stopped to ask for direction (that's what I assumed) to a local, the kid beggars didn't even come close to my car. Although the area by that time was quiet and seemed to be in nowhere, none of them threatened to scratch my car or flatten the tire because I didn't give them money. If you are from my home city, I think you know what I mean. Plus, yes there are beggars, too, in my country. However, all my life, I've never seen a beggar in my country kneeling down, not to mention kissing the ground. Never ever. In my home city, beggars can turn to be more a threat than an annoyance.

Okay, so my driver turned here and there, got off the car, talked to a local, got back on the car, turned again... but I seemed to get into nowhere. He appeared to have no idea -- or pretended to have not -- about the routes inside Kirirom National Park. I had a harsh time trying to explain to him that I wanted to see the waterfall. I was upset, because long before I've already told Mr. Phana that I wanted to go to Kirirom National Park. Why didn't he find me a driver that understood the routes inside the park? I text messaged Mr. Phana. Soon after my driver's cellphone rang. After they talked, my driver handed his cellphone to me telling that Mr. Phana wanted to talk to me. You know what he said?

"Now your driver will take you to another place. He will take you to the waterfall."

What?? Another place? I told him since the beginning that I wanted to go to the waterfall. And, where has he brought me to?? Another place?? As if he had brought me to somewhere already, even though that's not the waterfall.

It took half an hour turning in and out roads. Somehow I doubt that my driver really didn't know the way. I saw signs written in Khmer (I guess) along the way. When I asked what those signs said, he didn't answer. Moreover, how come after making stops, asking locals several times, we still didn't get into nowhere? Were the locals -- the local-S, I repeat -- that dumb? I really, really felt that this driver had wasted my time. When I lost my money in Vietnam, it hurt. I wanted my money back. However, this hurts more. I want my time back, but I know no matter how my driver is willing to, he can't. No one can.

At last... after that call from Mr. Phana, my driver brought me to the place where I first saw the sign which I thought was leading to the waterfall. We really, really had gone too far into the woods. At the parking area there were many, many cars, and people. This site is clearly not an unpopular site. It's unbelievable that the locals whom my driver talked to didn't know this place. Aaaargggghhhh.... why didn't he bring me directly here? It's unbelievable he didn't understand the sign. Why did he have to waste my time? Aaaarrrggghhh....

If you want to practice: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do", IMHO this is the place.

I arrived at this water fall exactly at 12 sharp when the sun was shining at its best. If only my driver didn't take me round and round, I would have arrived here earlier and probably get a better picture. Who knows. Yes, nobody does.

This is not the main-giant-huge-40 meters-tall waterfall.

Part of the sky hovering above me had some blue. For that, I was truly grateful.

Here are some local children (looks so) playing in the river. The flower band on their heads were sold by vendors around the park.

Still at Kirirom National Park.

These huts don't look as for rent. There's no mark and no sign. Anybody can claim a space. I sat here for awhile when I wanted to change my camera lens. Oh ya, near the parking lot there are various local food vendors. You can picnic in this hut. The local style, of course.

There's another place which I think would be more comfy but less naturalist, at the resort. I once saw the photo in the internet and also saw the sign before we entered this place. But I didn't go there, because I wanted to take the sunset cruise in Phnom Penh and thus was worried wouldn't make it. I would have gone there, if my driver hadn't wasted my time. Ah...

On the way back to Phnom Penh now. "Where to go now?" asked my driver.

"Go back straight to the hotel. Don't take me round and round again!" I surely must have raised my voice a bit.

However, very much to my shock, I heard him replied, "Oh! You want to go round round the town?"

Have you ever experienced the feeling of bursting into anger and laughter at the same time?

It seemed to me that there were more cows in this country than in Vietnam or Thailand. I guess that's because the Hinduism background of Cambodia. As stated by Wikipedia: Angkor Wat of Cambodia is the largest Hindu temple of the world. I actually can hardly believe that the largest Hindu temple exists in Cambodia and not in India. More than twice or thrice, I saw a cow wandering by the side of the street or even crossing the street with no shepherd around.

But what I want to tell you is that my driver seemed to be out of his mind that day. He nearly slammed the car into a crossing cow! That wasn't the first time he stepped on the brake in such a sudden. He did that several times already before we even had gotten to the waterfall. But I didn't really bother then, because there was only one thing in mind: waterfall. He stepped on the brake in a sudden right before a speed breaker on the street. You know, that little slope/hill crossing the road. In my country we call it polisi tidur which translated literally means: sleeping police. Hahaha, not sleeping Buddha ya. Ya, ya, ya, it was interesting to me too that speed breakers a.k.a. sleeping police in my country also exists in Cambodia.

When my driver nearly crushed into the cow, it was the climax. My face slammed into the front seat. My nose, although not sharp, hurt. "Hey! What's wrong with you??!" I snapped.

"The cow just crossed the street like that. I was shocked," my driver replied.

Aaarrrggghhh! How do you expect a cow to cross the street??! I already saw that cow several meters ahead. There was no traffic between our car and that cow. It was perfect day time. Even someone with cataract would have seen that cow. Undoubtedly, there should have been enough time to slow down and wait until that holy cow passes by. Bah.

"There," my driver turned his head back. "Put that on."

"Put what?!"

"That." He crossed his hand on his chess.

"Oh, you mean this seat belt?"

"Yes, put that on."

A Japanese would have retorted: Baka!!! Does he think that a seat belt is invented to allow reckless driving??

Part of the scenery resembled the view from my train window on the way from Malaysia to Thailand. The coconut trees. They look like Dad's ear-pick.

This is the entrance gate to Phnom Penh International Airport. The airport building itself was impressive. It's a pity I failed to capture it.

In conclusion, Kirirom National Park -- as far as I had gotten to see -- was pretty basic. If it weren't for the passion for nature in me, I would have find nothing there. But still out of curiosity, once I was back, I searched the internet again. It looks like that Kirirom National Park has still much more to offer me. I'm thinking of joining a local tour -- if there's one -- and go on hiking. A waterfall 40 meters high? I didn't see that! I'm thinking (seriously) of coming back. Just don't remind me of the long list of places I want to travel to.

Posted by automidori 06:10 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia kirirom_national_park

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