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
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
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.
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.