Photo: Dirt road travelling near Sen Monorom.

Introduction

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Little-visited Sen Monorom is the capital of Mondulkiri, Cambodia’s largest province — a vast expanse famed for thick forests, thunderous waterfalls, hills that wave up and down towards misty, faraway horizons and a real chance to immerse yourself in nature. For now. Things are changing here rapidly but, for the moment, you can still enjoy a relaxed, gentler pace of life than elsewhere, amid a genuinely friendly population.


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The changes are manifold. Sen Monorom now has 24-hour electricity — they still talk about it in hushed tones — plus new roads between the capital and Ratanakiri to the north have made access much easier. But “progress” is a double-edged sword. In the modern era, quiet Mondulkiri has become something of a cash cow for the Cambodian government and outside companies, who are profiting mightily off its jungles and relatively fertile soil. The roads have made it easier for Cambodia’s elite class to carry on with their systematic rape and pillage of the country at everyone else’s expense, the evidence of which can be found on the hills where trees and indigenous populations have been replaced with endless rubber and cashew plantations.

The best way to see elephants. Photo taken in or around Sen Monorom, Cambodia by Nicky Sullivan.

The best way to see elephants. Photo: Nicky Sullivan

This huge province — 14,288 square kilometres — is also Cambodia’s most under-populated, though that too is changing as pressures on land in other parts of the country are seeing large-scale migrations taking place. Last year, we were told, more than 10,000 people made the move to Mondulkiri. Those dispossessed elsewhere come in and are in turn dispossessing the indigenous Bunong. When we asked if there had been any conflict, we were told no, “The Bunong are pretty relaxed people.” If migrations continue, we can only wonder how long that ... Travelfish members only (Around 1,000 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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