This 10 day expedition can only be described as epic. Prey Long is a very remote area, even by Cambodia’s standards. It take 2 and a half days just to get there from Phnom Penh so not many people get to explore this little known piece of forest.
The purpose of the trip was to film a team from the University of Copenhagen who were going to collect tree samples and data to assess the value of Prey Long in terms of carbon sequestration, along with a team from Conservation International, who were there to gather information on the wildlife in the area, specifically turtles. By the time we picked up our local guides the team numbered 15 in total including myself and my soundman/assistant Mao.
It was the start of the wet season here and we expected to get seriously wet. As it turned out we were quite fortunate with the weather. After spending around 7 hours bouncing around in the back of a locally made truck (a mixture of several vehicles welded together, although unfortunately they seemed to have forgotten to involve any suspension in its construction) we arrived in the village of Spong. The local people are of the indigenous tribe called “Kuy” and they made us all very welcome.
Day 3 began with a 15km walk to a ‘resin camp’ from where we had to walk a further 12km to the swamp forest. By the time we arrived and set up camp the day was already nearing an end. I had been warned that we would see a great many snakes but I was taken aback by the number I saw on this trip. In the end I saw 8 pit-vipers, the Malayan and the Russell’s, which are the most deadly of the vipers found in Cambodia. I found upwards of 7 or 8 here last year too. Being at the very least 2 days from a hospital, getting bitten was not on the agenda. I have travelled all over Cambodia during my 8 years here and spent a great deal of time in the forest, yet in all that time I have only ever seen 3 poisonous snakes. Prey Long can be quite a scary place, the damn things are everywhere.
Prey Long is strange, I was expecting the usual selection of bitting bugs, but was amazed at how few mosquitos bothered us and we didn’t come across any leeches. I took my tree climbing equipment as I wanted to get shots of University team collecting samples, as it turned out it was the extremely angry tree ants that were our biggest problem. They may be small but they have damn big teeth.
(to be continued)