We arrived early and so decided to eat. We went to a couple of shops and I was starting to think I wouldn't be able to eat anything in Mondulkiri, but there we found a bakery! And it had the tastiest non egg breads - a taro stuffed and a coconut stuffed. Next we went to eat where Michael could eat and while sitting there I saw people leaving with glasses of sugar can juice! YAY! I have been wanting it for over a year and got to have my glass of sugar cane juice. Scoped out the city after that and then Tharanga arrived. We went to an old tribal village and then off to his house. So when I lived here he went to mondulkiri for a forced vacation and when he arrived he didn't have a place to stay so he ended up staying with a tourguide. His mother was sick and tharanga saw her and soon the whole village showed up. So he started going regularly and they asked why he doesn't just build a house. He said he didn't know how and they said they would build it for him! :) So he has a house on the top of a mountain! :) I heard about it on my last visit and just wanted to go see it!
We drew water from the well, watched the sun set, admired the 360 degree view and then had dinner with the tour guide. Apparently there are different prices for dinner for the locals and tourists but since he picked it up from the city we got the cheap price. He shared about the village, culture and his life. He grew up here but has always been different, blessed with foresight. He used to walk 1 hour one way to get get to school everyday, but despite that he wanted to continue his education after his father wanted to pull him out of school after primary school and have him work as a farmer with him. So he ran away from school and went studied and eventually did two years of studying as a teacher as well, where he met his wife. Now he has come back and is slowly trying to educate his people in a different way of life.
There is elephant trekking here where you can ride an elephant for 3-4 hours. What he shared with us is that by riding the elephant as a tourist we are actually shortening the elephant's life - they apparently live for nearly 120 years but because of the tourism there life spans are decreasing to 60 years. Also this culture doesn't breed their elephants because they believe the elephant must be married prior to breeding, but marriages cost so much they can't afford it. So in another 60 years this people group will lose their major source of income :( unless they are able to understand what is happening. They have a unique system of beliefs that is unfortunately based on fear and makes them poor. Every marriage you must sacrifice animals for each family that comes. If you don't sacrifice and something happens to them, then they blame you. So even this man's mom initially refused to come to his wedding because he wouldn't sacrifice a cow for 1000 dollars. In terms of health, they have a traditional healer who asks for animal sacrifice for their healing. He blames the animal for going to someone's house and bringing back an evil spirit and so it has to be killed and eaten by the family and himself. If someone goes to visit you while you are sick, you are required to kill an animal and sacrifice it for them. People lose so much money with all this sacrificing and can't stop it because of the fear and lack of education. so it's great to have a local there who can see and work with his community to help bring change. And it's amazing to see how tharanga ended up out of all the people in the world, at his house! :)
So we were setting up for the night and I was thinking, no running water, slight mess from the construction, it' going to be a slightly uncomfortable night. I would like to stay in a 7-12 dollar hotel, but it would be rude to ask. And guess what! the phone rings and it's a friend of his who is there with her husband's retreat (a group of government officials) who rented out an entire hotel and they have 3 extra rooms that they want to give us for free! So are we blessed or what! :)
We went there after dinner. The roads were pitch black. And for the first time in my life, we had an accident and fell. I have to say it was the perfect accident. The motorcycle was almost stopped when i fell. First me, then the motorcycle and michael on top. But we were all ok :) I have to say, God is sooo good! I hadn't taken the motorcylce helmet with me, but God is sooo good! :)