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Magic moments in Mondulkiri

M ondulkiri is one of the few provinces in the Kingdom that you can spend hours

flying over and see only vast expanses of pristine jungle unfettered by the

hands of humankind. It is quite a sight to see - seemingly endless, lush, green

forest wrapped sparsely by tiny streams with only a rare foot path in

sight.

In the province's remotest corners herds of wild bantang quietly

guard muddy ponds as their only source of water during the dry season. Tigers,

wild elephants and other critters also abound.

The Kingdom's national

animal - the kouprey, or jungle cow, probably the world's rarest mammal - is

reported to have been sighted there in the past two years. It is said to be

hiding out in tiny enclaves of thick forest whose most recent human visitors may

have included American soldiers also hiding out safely on deep-penetration

missions inside Cambodia designed to interrupt traffic on the Ho Chi Minh trail.

That was more than two decades ago.

 

It's fair to say that more than fifty percent of Mondulkiri's population has

never seen anyone you or I have ever known.

People who live there rarely

go beyond the province's borders, because on the ground it takes literally days

to go anywhere else. The province is virtually cut off with roads nearly

impassable.

From Sen Monoram, the provincial capital, the best way by

land to get to Phnom Penh, or anywhere else in Cambodia, is to go through

Vietnam. Although people who make the trip complain regularly of getting "taxed"

heavily by the Vietnamese for the passage, both in and out.

Mondulkiri is

rich in resources - timber, gems and some of the Kingdom's most productive if

not isolated gold mines. It is also plagued by malaria with as many as 95

percent of the population infected with the disease.

Franck Nolot, a

Frenchman with a penchant and the youth for lost corners of the world went there

and took a few pictures, some of which are shown on this page.

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