The next two weeks would be spent in a remote jungle in Mondulkiri volunteering at the Elephant Valley Project. Our day was divided into two parts; elephant observation, where we learnt all about the different elephants, and secondly volunteering. The jungle took us a while to get used to, in the first few days it was a frequent occurrence to hear screams during the evening when people went to the toilet and were faced with huge spiders/ scorpions/ frogs. Typically all the spiders seemed to end up in my room as I was the one most scared of them. Later on in the week Dave decided to assassinate a huge army of thousands of ants which were passing through his room with the ‘instant kill’ spray we had in our rooms.
The project had around 8 elephants, all of which were female except one. This included Sambo, who is considered to be the most famous elephant in Cambodia. We learnt a lot about his cruel history where she spent the majority of her life begging along the river in Phomn Penh. Here she was fed all sorts of foods that elephants shouldn’t eat- including birthday cake and coke! Sadly one day she stepped on a nail which went straight through her foot and subsequently resulted in a bad infection which was never properly treated until she came to EVP.
Over the week we all learnt loads about elephants and the mahouts. For example, elephants typically spend 20 hours a day eating – not a bad life. Also that the bond between the mahout and the elephant is as strong as the bond between family as they spend all day, everyday together.
For the volunteering part we spent most of the week clearing a part of the jungle so that we can create a banana field to feed the elephants.
This involved the use machetes which the boys were definitely excited about. Luckily the only injury we had was when Aidan tried to drop kick a tree he had been cutting down in an attempt to push it over and a thorn went straight through both his shoe and his foot (don’t worry he was fine!).
The weekend was spent in the town of Sen Monorom where we went to visit Bousra waterfall. Chouy went straight in the waterfall fully clothed in his jeans and top.
On Sunday we went back to EVP ready for another week of volunteering.