There has been no internet in Battambang, so I am posting these all up after my stay in the province, but here’s how my trip panned out with CMAC day by day…
Monday 2nd July 2012:
10am – arrive at CMAC HQ in Phnom Penh to prepare for my forthcoming trip to Battambang. I was expecting to have my point of contact, a Mr. Sam Socheath, accompany on the journey and to all of the in-field visits. This would have been perfect as he is quite a character, fluent in English and Khmer (so the perfect translator) and well-connected in the world of landmines. However, this was not meant to be!!
After sitting in CMAC HQ for an hour or so, I discovered that Sam Socheath unfortunately could not come with me to Battambang as he had been assigned lots more admin work to do in Phnom Penh and could not leave for a whole week to be with me!! This was a major blow, but surprisingly I remained perfectly calm and didn’t really see this as a setback, as I knew something would pull through – I had the backing and support of CMAC and they weren’t just going to leave me high and dry!! I have also come to realise since being out in Cambodia that there is no point in trying to control what is out of your hands, or force something to happen that you simply can’t change, so roll with whatever happens and take the opportunities when they come to you!
An hour later, I was introduced to my driver – oh yes I have my own personal CMAC driver (complete with CMAC off-road vehicle). This was such a relief, and I was really excited to get going, the only minor issue was that my driver didn’t really understand any English! Now you know that scene in Love Actually… when Colin Firth has the forign cleaner who he drives home in the car everyday?! – that’s how I felt. I was perfectly comfortable, and the driver (I’ve asked him his name 5 times now and reeeally cant remember! L) was lovely and did try to speak to me, but ultimately communication between the 2 of us was feeble! To add to this, the journey was 4 hours long!
It is in fact monsoon season in Cambodia at the moment, and I didn’t think that I had seen much rain since I’ve been here. I thought too soon though – because on the drive I saw some of the heaviest rain I have EVER seen!! It was amazing. You can see the black rain clouds obviously in the sky around the normal fluffy white ones. You drive under and the rain literally starts coming down in sheets… we couldn’t even see at one point. Then when you drive out the other end of the rain cloud the deluge stops almost immediately, just as sudden as it started.
We arrived in Battambang at 5, went to dinner by the river at 6:30 and then off for an early bed, ready for my 7am start tomorrow!!