We took a private car from Kampong Thom to a place called BeTreed Adventures, near Ta Seng ($80, with a stop off at Bakan Temple). It’s run by an American (Ben Davis) and his Australian wife (Sharyn), and their two daughters. For details on BeTreed see their web site at https://betreed.com. Suffice to say that it is well off the beaten track. We stayed in one of the stilt houses, which are completely open to the jungle so we got jungle sounds all day and night.
The Davis family were wonderful hosts and the food was spectacular. We met some interesting people here in addition to the Davis’, whose story can be found on the BeTreed web page. These included a Dutch guy that bicycled SE Asia back in late 1990s, got lost on the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos and was temporarily detained by the Laotian military; a British photojournalist there to document environmental degradation (http://www.gallagher-photo.com); and a Belgian (Geert) who, like me, was taking a long sabbatical from work to travel SE Asia.
We stayed two nights (~$100/night including lodging, meals, guided hike, and conservation fee) and did an ~5 mile hike with Geert through the jungle around BeTreed. Denise also did the zip line. Pete, being the more risk-averse of the two, declined the zip line thinking that just traveling around the third world was risky enough without adding in a home-made zip line in the middle of nowhere.
The only downer to the BeTreed stay was that there was a semi-domesticated gibbon named Mollie, who shows up almost daily in the area of the main house and the stilt houses. Mollie was raised by the previous owners, which continued with the Davis’ when they bought the property. She now lives in the forest but frequently visits the area, where she helps herself to food and is sometimes even deliberately fed, and generally makes a pain of herself. The Davis’ make a half-hearted attempt to keep her at bay, but at best Mollie gets mixed messages, and she certainly sees humans as a food source. This makes for an animal who has no fear of humans, and who can be aggressive toward people (especially white guys, according to Sharyn).
Mollie has bitten both Ben and Sharyn, in one case requiring stitches to repair the wound, complicated by the fact that they are about 3 hours from any form of medical care. The presence of Mollie led to the unfortunate necessity of always being on high alert for her whereabouts during the daytime and the near-constant fear of antagonizing her and risking injury (we were told that she never shows up at night). This was a huge buzz-kill for Pete, what would otherwise have been an idyllic few days in the jungle. Denise was not quite as afraid of Mollie.
Quite frankly, if we had known about Mollie before going to BeTreed we would have skipped this part of the trip, but as it was by the time we arrived it was too late to make alternate arrangements. We were 3 hours from Kompong Thom, the nearest town where we could get accommodations and where we traveled from.
Following our two nights at BeTreed we traveled north to Sra Em to visit a temple near the Thai border.