Sen Monorom: February 25th-February 27th.

We left Ban Lung at about 0945 on an overcrowded minivan for the 215 km trip to Sen Monorom ($10 each), also known as Mondulkiri. We got the suicide seats right up front, but fortunately had seat belts. It was a comfortable ride due to the road being in good shape (it was built about a year ago) and the driver drove at a reasonable speed. Like the previous driver, the horn was used quite a bit and Cambodian techno-pop music blasted our eardrums. Luckily we had our earplugs! We arrived in Mondulkiri (Sen Monorom) at around 1145 but had a rest stop for 30 minutes on the way. The following day we were picked up at the Greenhouse Restaurant to be taken to the Elephant Valley Project (EVP).

Here is our arrival motorbike from the bus to Son Monorum.

Here is our arrival motorbike from the bus to Sen Monorom.

 

The view from our lovely hotel. 'The Green Hotel"

The view from our lovely hotel, The Green House.

 

Here is what you can get for $12.00 per night at the Green House.

Here is what you can get for $12.00 per night at the Green House.

Our main focus in Sen Monorom was to visit and volunteer at the Elephant Valley Project (EVP).  On arrival we were given an orientation to the Elephant Valley Project and our schedule as volunteers. We would work for about 4 hours per day completing projects such as building a bench for a nearby village and making various signs for the grounds. Then we would spend the rest of the day observing the elephants in their daily activities. The philosophy of this project was to allow the elephants to live as normally as possible eating their normal diet of massive amounts of plant material and even knocking down trees if they so desired.

Our room was large with a grand view of the jungle. We were given amazingly good meals buffet style. There was no internet or other distractions and no electricity except from 6pm to 10 pm. Only jungle sounds were heard and luckily no mice were seen.

 

Here is John who was also a long term volunteer and introduced us to many of the elephants.

Here is John who was a long term volunteer and introduced us to many of the elephants.

There was no riding of elephants but the mahouts did assist them to bathe. These elephants were previously owned by companies or individuals that used them for tourism. What we learned was that the elephant’s spine actually became deformed as a result of using the harness to carry tourists. We never would have engaged in riding these amazing creatures in the past had we known this fact. We also learned that many elephants used in tourism are not treated well and abused physically and emotionally as infants through adulthood.

Here are the first three elephants that were introduced to us!

Here are the first four elephants that were introduced to us!  At the time there were nine elephants living at the Elephant Valley Project.

 

This is about the distance that we were allowed to be from the elephants during our project.

This is about the distance that we were allowed to be from the elephants during our stay at EVP.

 

An elephant takes a bath!

An elephant takes a bath!

 

In the jungle the mighty jungles the elephant sleeps tonight!

In the jungle the mighty jungles the elephant sleeps tonight!

 

Home sweet jungle home. No karaoke!

Home sweet jungle home at EVP, where we stayed for one night. No karaoke, and no hot water either.  Electricity from 6 to 10 PM only.

 

The view out of our jungle home window.

The view out of our jungle home window.

 

Putting together some new furniture for the village next door. We also watered plants and make frames during our work there.

Putting together some new furniture for the village nearby. We also watered plants and made frames during our work at EVP.

 

The view from the community front porch to the jungle.

The view from the community front porch to the jungle.

 

Everyone sacked out for an afternoon nap after volunteer work.

Everyone sacked out for an afternoon nap after volunteer work.

 

Even the cat!

Even the cat!

 

Mahouts washing elephants.

Mahouts washing elephants.

 

More adorable elephants!

More adorable elephants!

 

She is scratching her head!

She is scratching her head!

 

Just couldn't get enough photos of happy elephants!

Just couldn’t get enough photos of happy elephants!

 

Ok! I know I have a problem here. I never knew that elephants were so cute!

Ok! I know I have a problem here. I never knew that elephants were so cute!

These elephants were all older in years and few were able to breed. There was one female in her 20’s but she was not attracted to the only male elephant that was breeding material. As a result of years of poaching, the Asian elephant is an endangered species. We felt fortunate to spend time near them yet sad about their situation.

We followed them for nearly 4 hours in the afternoon.

We followed them for nearly 4 hours in the afternoon.

 

It was so wonderful to see the elephants roam in the forest and even have some alone time.

It was so wonderful to see the elephants roam in the forest and even have some alone time.

The following day we went on an all day excursion to the Elephant Community Project. Heng was an excellent guide throughout the day. She introduced us to another group of elephants that we spent most of our time getting to know. We were allowed to get closer to this group of elephants. We even assisted the mahouts in bathing them. We also met  Leng who is the only female mahout in Cambodia.

Our very knowledgeable guide Heng.

Our very knowledgeable guide Heng

 

A local villager that allowed us to visit her in her home.

A local villager that allowed us to visit her in her home and she shared some bananas with us.

 

Denise feeds one of the elephants a banana.

Denise feeds one of the elephants a banana.

 

The mahouts bring the elephants to a water area to bathe.

The mahouts bring the elephants to a water area to bathe.

 

Elephants are excellent swimmers!

Elephants are excellent swimmers!

 

Denise gets on the elephant which was not easy!

Denise gets on an elephant which was not easy!

 

Denise helps the mahout bathe the elephant then gives the elephant a hug.

Denise helps bathe the elephant then gives the elephant a hug.

 


Elephant face relaxed after her bath.

Elephant face relaxed after her bath.

 

We definitely got our elephant fix after 3 days with elephants!

We definitely got our elephant fix after 3 days with elephants!

 

One of the homes in the village next door to the Elephant Community Project.

One of the homes in the village next door to the Elephant Community Project.

 

 

 

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