The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Adventures of Adam Bray & The Land of Nop: Pt 2

In case you missed it, view Part 1 of this adventure here.

Here we have a second ancient Cham temple ruin. The government found this one and excavated it about 2 years ago. It also likely dates from the 8th or 9th century. As usual, the government looted when they wanted from it, then left it fallow for the cows and farmers to run all over it. Surely it won't last long now.

This corn field is growing on what was tropical rainforest a few years ago. Slash and burn agriculture is taking villagers further into the jungle each season and destroying this precious habitat.

Obstacle 4: the road has gone from path to riverbed now. Soon I'll have to abandon the motorbike.

I enter a bamboo rainforest. The villagers tell me that in this area a man was just discovered, having been missing for a few days, eviscerated with his brain removed. I shudder a little. I hope I haven't entered the scene of the next Predator movie! Stories abound in the countryside of evil men who kill travelers and children, and sell their organs--to be used in magical rice wine brews by the wealthy and powerful.

A giant jungle millipede. These guys are everywhere and feed on dead and rottering plan matter. They are relatively harmless, though highly poisonous if a predator tried to eat them.

Giant spiders... these lovely ladies, with legs like chopsticks, have a very large range. I've seen them in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. if I'm not mistaken, I think they are bird-eaters.

Giant river crabs... I'm told they are edible but they taste like mud. They actually have very cute personalities. There were about 10 of these males (the females are relatively tiny and lack the giant  claw) in my swimming hole. I slept in the waterfall for about an hour. I woke up with this fellow poking me in the leg. I think he was trying to see what I was.

My swimming hole, taken from a little waterfall above. There were at least three kinds of fish in the pool--who were very inquisitive and loved to help me eat the bread that I brought for my picnic lunch.

This stretch of jungle was one of the most wild that I've encountered in Vietnam, actually. There were wild birds everywhere squawking, singing and fluttering about. Unfortunately most of the time that's not true--the jungles of Vietnam are usually completely silent because all of the birds and other animals have been hunted and removed from the forest wholesale. Its a worrying situation and villagers and authorities alike don't seem to care.

As I left the forest to return home, a villager stopped me and asked if I was there looking at the river for the government. I asked him why he thought that. He said that 5 years ago, the government announced that it planned to build a dam and flood the gorge, creating a reservoir, and destroying this unique jungle habitat--just as they have many of the valleys and gorges throughout the Central Highlands. One by one all of these spots are being lost--and so are the wild plants, animals, archaeological and cultural treasures of the people who live here.

Want more adventure and great photos? Read the whole adventure thread here.

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