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 Hi friends! 

We continue to consider the articles of Russian authors about Cambodia. I reviewed a lot of materials in Russian. Most of all I liked the description of events in the magazine "Around the world". I really want to share this information with you. Today will be a very big article about the journey of Russian correspondents in Cambodia. This trip was 10 years ago. Probably always interesting to look back and see what has changed during this time in the country. At least I'm interested. I liked the 2008 article about Cambodia very much. The author of the article Alexey Anastasiev perfectly described his journey, it was pleasant to read. Remember that everyone has a different perception of the world and not like others. Hope you also enjoy this article. At the end of the article will provide a link to the official version of the article on the website of the magazine "Around the world". In the text I will insert some archival photos from Cambodia. Other photos from the original article "Return of Cambodia". All world and for good!!!


Travellers of our age have nothing to envy to its predecessors. Those had the opportunity with a clear conscience to say the hackneyed phrase:"We were where before us did not go foot of the white person". Even 100 years ago, such a statement could well be true. Now such places in the world, perhaps not. Countries studied, large animals and plants described, provided with binary Latin labels and adorn the pages of biological pointers. If there is anything left in the world, it is the secrets that have not been touched by the attention of the world community — naturalists, journalists, ethnographers. One such mystery is Cambodia. A relatively small country, lost in the wilds of Southeast Asia, which is almost half a century hidden from us the bloody veil of the local civil war. Hid together with its primitive tribes, primary jungle and wet Savannah, unique Buddhist-pagan culture, amazing birds, animals, reptiles and other miracles.

Chapter I 

Island without shores-from Angkor To Pol Pot-Insect snacks

Of course, Cambodia — it's not some lost in the ocean world-an island where nature just because of isolation "nothing like" and this is interesting. After all, even its present territory is the product of recent historical events (mainly the administrative activities of the French colonial authorities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries). And before that, in the glorious middle ages for the Khmer, their Empire centered in Angkor included half of present-day Thailand, Lao and Vietnamese lands. There was a time when the modern multi-million Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon) was a Cambodian village.
And in a geographical sense-it is if the "island", without shores. Even 800 years ago, travelers from China noticed that the territory of the country "Kam-PU-Jie" (so Khmer self-name was heard by the Chinese ear) is a giant flat bowl formed by four mountain systems: Cardamom and Elephant ridges in the South-West, the Contour in the East and Dangrek in the North. Only from the South Cambodia as if opens the world a giant and paradoxical water system. It also forms the economic unity of the state: the great Mekong a whole bunch of large and small streams connected with no less great Fresh sea, known to modern science as lake Tonle SAP. And these flows — that's the paradox-can change direction. Depending on the season, the river of the same name flows into the lake, then out of it, which, of course, facilitated Khmer, and ancient and modern, internal communication in their homeland.
So, the" island " of Cambodia has no clear natural boundaries. It is not surprising, therefore, that there are practically no endemic species in the country either — here everything is "the same" and "the same" as throughout Indochina. In the North-East and South-West roam wild Asian elephants, and on the walls of the village huts, invisible in the night, ominous "cough" lizard currents — the same challenge can be heard in any resort Pattison Bungalow (only by the Khmer Rouge, unlike the Thais, believe that the currents brings good luck to the house). Everywhere in Cambodia, as in Laos or Malaysia, in rural areas, you can inadvertently step on a spectacled Cobra, kufiya or Krita, and macaques jump on the roofs and ceilings of temples, even in large cities. Once Sumatran rhinos were grazing around, but they all died out, as again, and abroad Cambodia. But in the dense forests and in remote areas of the plain Savannah, according to eyewitnesses, roam small herds of unique South Asian bulls — banteng, Gaur. There are still kouprey, or gray bulls — they, incidentally, according to most scientists, represent the last large mammals that are open to the present time on planet Earth. But in this country, lying in front of us, would not be qualitatively different from the neighboring, and biologists would have to be all the same, where to send the expedition, if not for the sad events that took place in Cambodia in the second half of the twentieth century.

Excursion 1 

All life is struggle

Already since I-III centuries of our era in the lower reaches of the Mekong there were some public education. In the IXth century they were United into a powerful Empire of Kambujadesa centered in Angkor. Her Saga is well documented and known to all interested parties. Then the Khmer power, like all empires in the world, collapsed-under the onslaught of strong neighbors from Thai Ayutaya and South Vietnam. Angkor fell. From the XV century weakened local rulers and did just what was lost to sections of the former site and remains of former glory. Perhaps Cambodia's statehood would have disappeared in the end, if it had not been Europeans and their principle of " divide and rule "did not save her"Ghost".
After a long struggle of the great powers for colonial influence in southeastern Indochina strengthened France Napoleon III. In 1863, the Emperor's protectorate over Cambodia was declared. This continued for 90 years, until the popular uprising — Cambodians have sought to free themselves from overseas guardianship and taxes. The Japanese occupation of the country during the Second world war only catalyzed these aspirations. So even after the departure of the Japanese, the French, and returned, but only briefly. Since 1953, the Kingdom has regained its internationally recognized independence.
It would seem joyful for the Rouge event marked the beginning of their great woes: long-term political and military "confusion". King Norodom Sihanouk then agreed to the role of constitutional monarch, then suddenly declared himself a socialist and appropriated the post of Prime Minister. Here the Americans interfered, looking for an excuse to invade Cambodia. The international community, in turn, forced them to withdraw, but instead they started massive bombardment of the neighborhood in Vietnam, the "raging" their enemies the Viet Cong. It is not surprising that by the 1970s the country had turned into a Smoking ashes. But in a true hell on Earth she had yet to develop. In the 1960s, a Sorbonne graduate and a staunch Marxist Maoist named Salot SAR appeared on the political scene. Under party nickname Paul Pot he is much better known. With the support of the Viet Cong, China, this energetic person in the short years have created a viable military organization, captured town after town, province after province... And in 1975 solemnly entered the capital Phnom Penh. It was declared the "zero year" of the new era, the country turned into a Democratic Kampuchea, the state flag fell with the silhouette of Angkor, and instead rose red. Officially, the Khmer Rouge did not stay in power for long — only until 1979, but they left the deepest impression about themselves.
And again followed by a rebellion in Phnom Penh came the new owners of the National liberation front of Kampuchea. Finally, it took another decade or so, and king Sihanouk returned to the country. Now the constitutional monarchy seems to be acquiring some features of stability, which, in fact, made possible the beginnings of tourist construction, attempts to restore the economy (by the UN decision, the product produced in Cambodia is not yet subject to any international duties on the sale), as well as a modest visit of correspondents "Around the world".
However, what does all these cruel vicissitudes have to do with flora and fauna? Yes direct. Here is what the domestic zoologist Igor Akimushkin writes in the famous book "the world of animals": "in the early thirties, rumors reached Europe that the wild bull lives in the forests of Indochina, which is not known to science. Local hunters could name all his signs. They called him Kopra — "grey bull". They were asked: "Maybe it's Gaur?- No, not Gaur. Another bull. The Gaur is almost no dewlap, and Korea — a large dewlap. It's hilarious. And Gaura hump"... In 1970 in Cambodia, lived not more than 40 Kopeev. Since then, there is no information about them. It is possible that... the war brought death and kouprey".

Gaur (Bibos gaurus or Bos frontalis) — the largest of the genus of these bulls to date. Only its close relative kouprey may be even bigger

In this regard, we decided to go to those areas of the country where it is possible to meet the elusive bull. Such places — with a careful study of the materials Of the center for nature conservation, eyewitness reports and maps of Cambodia-were three. First, the national Park of Virachi in Ratanakiri province-where the elusive animals and found, as not the only "whole" array of primary jungle area of 3325 km2. Secondly, a conservation area, kulen Prum TEP on the Northern plains, there is a herd Kopeev saw British researchers in the 1950s. Finally, the Cardamom and Elephant mountains and Islands off the coast of the Gulf of Thailand — the South-West of the country, though legally considered the most developed part of it, is rich in untouched corners.
All this our last night of Phnom Penh before his departure to the bosom of nature quietly talking in the Club of foreign correspondents, one of the oldest preserved buildings. And the noise of the city center.

Excursion 2 

Grandchildren grandmothers Stump

Once a poor widow with this curious Russian name accidentally fished out of the river five statues of Buddha. They were brought by the current in the branches of a huge tree. The pious old woman considered it a sign from above, poured, as prescribed by custom, in front of his hut five hills and put them on their figurines. Since then, it all started. Each passing (passing) considered it his duty to go ashore here, in the very place where the currents of four powerful streams converge — the "main" Mekong, the Upper Mekong, Bassak and Tonle SAP — and pour some earth under the wonderful sculptures. It happened in Phnom Penh ("Stump Hill") around which after the date of the Angkor to the Thais Pona Yat, the Emperor built a new capital. And it is enough to look at the map to understand how he was right: from here it is most convenient to get on the water to almost anywhere in the country. Besides, where is water — there is rice, fish and well-being.
From the upper balcony of the Club offers a comprehensive view of the city. On the right hand — the national Museum and the Royal Palace, where all newly arrived guests of the capital are pulled together in the afternoon. And across the road from the Palace, on the embankment the atmosphere of democratic national festivities dominates. It then immediately and clearly palpable character and ethnic flavour of Cambodian life. Of course, the dirt and unsanitary conditions are striking. It is difficult to breathe, though not from the sweet stench of rotting fruit, as, for example, in Delhi, but from a mixture of smells of diesel burning and rancid oil. At the latter, unimaginable snacks are prepared, namely: cicadas, tropical cockroaches, embryos of large birds (eagles and storks), grilled, snakes, tentacles of aquatic invertebrates, frogs, spiders, ordinary shrimp. Some of this food comes from rivers right next to the counters.
A motley crowd walks and noses do not turn up. Both Khmer and Europeans feel great, and there are surprisingly many of them here.

Hunting market in Banlung, Ratanakiri province. Our guide Sarath examines the dried insides of the flying squirrel (the very mammal that is able to spread skin growths between the legs in the manner of a hang glider, to fly from tree to tree). They use so-cut the animal in half, produce juices, dry and sell seven dollars apiece. Buyers, scraping the bodies from the skin, burn them in a special boiler, inhaling the smoke and aroma. It is believed that it strengthens the body in the fight against malaria and other tropical diseases. Or fill the inside of the animal with boiling water, wait until infused "broth", and drinking — in the same order

Quite rapidly, as usual in southern countries — all this sight, and night falls. Walking slowly removed. It's time to rest before the long journey and us. Past the wind-waving ads on the walls like "Apartments at the monument of Independence for rent: one year - $ 1660" we slowly moved to his hotel — perhaps this is the last night that we have to spend in exemplary civilized conditions in the coming weeks.

Chapter 2 

Color, savage and Sarath — Almost there — Pachnie suffering

Five hundred kilometers by car-the distance is not small even for Europe. What can we say about Cambodia, where the quality of the highway is completely unpredictable in its different parts. Our lean old driver in the Bedlam of native trails is not lost, though it can answer any question down to "What weather is expected tomorrow?"well done," Yes, sir!"confidently hurtling along the road to the North.
At intersections elegant stone elephants with Cambodian flags in their trunks are replaced by garden stuffed animals in the form of giant ducks in the middle of rice fields. Soon from a roadside landscape disappear "stationary" gas stations, instead of them now-hastily hammered together counters with two-liter bottles from-under Cola. Only in them not sweet soda, and gasoline. Fuel, local residents clubbed together to buy the far the pump barrels and bottled for sale to motorcyclists.
In parallel, of course, sold and edible: spicy soup Tom-Yang with lemon grass, the same dried octopus-legged. The city of SKUN, which we pass nearer to noon, is famous as a place of their "most correct", traditional cooking. However, evil tongues claim that there is no tradition. Never local Khmer spiders didn't eat and were forced to go on the questionable diet hungry in the 1970s.
... On terrible potholes we managed to doze off, and woke up already as if in other country. In the Kingdom of indescribable beauty. The Northern part of Ratanakiri province is one of the last large areas of untouched primary forest on the whole Earth and in South-East Asia.
We arrive in banlung, the current capital of The province. However, the settlement about which it is possible to speak as about the city — with three — storeyed buildings and a water supply system-appeared only in the second half of 1990 and earlier those who considered it necessary to be found in "the regional center", simply gathered on the market square, spread mats on the bare earth and lived so for years.
So lived, in particular, our guide named Sarath. "" He fought with, his 12 brothers and sisters are still illiterate hunters and "forest Housewives" in Kramskoi the village. This tribe includes 17% of the Ratanakiri population, second only to the tompuns (more than 30%), slightly ahead of the jamais (15%), and together with them is a conditional ethnic group of the "upper Khmer". So the Royal officials at the airport decided to call different primitive people of the North-East, although they are not ethnically Khmer.

Excursion 3 

Features of national hunting

Adopted: 12 years old boy goes with his father to the jungle, staying from time to time on the back hand of the elephant. All Kranjska children are going to become hunters -- all, in fact, there is nobody. First, their job was just to fill the "crater" arrows poison of cobras or some plants. Then they learn how to peel the carcasses and separate from the unusable parts what a person needs. Each animal is "right" - its own.
The deer sambar, for example, especially appreciated soft tissue — covers from the horns. They are sold to the Chinese for compound ingredients for" secret " drugs. But the dried insides of flying squirrels are needed by the upper Khmer. They are burned in a special boiler, inhaling the smoke and aroma. It is believed that it strengthens the body in the fight against malaria and other tropical diseases... And, of course, many forest dwellers are killed just for the sake of meat.
Officially hunting in Cambodia is strictly prohibited, but the national minorities of the province of Ratanakiri are allowed to produce a number of animals for their needs (another thing that they produce not only for their own). This can be done in a wide-about a hundred kilometers across-the area North of Banlung, between the city and the national Park Virachey (but in any case not in the Park). Here, in the so-called Communal forest, it seems that there are still enough animals, although in former times it was incomparably more.
To save the remnants of populations at the "savages" to be sure, seized the guns. It is allowed to trade only with traditional weapons. But what are these measures, if no one regulates the methods of hunting? They, of course, remain the same as thousands of years ago. And this, for example, so: "is taken" square forests. A thin strip is burned along the perimeter. Then some men with spears and primitive crossbows comb the resulting "bag". And others-stand and " meet "scared animals at the starting position... or so: high in the crowns of trees, at equal distances from each other, built a kind of"observation nest". There climb all the same children and different-developed, presumably, for centuries-melodies whistling sent through the jungle hunting group.

King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) - one of the largest poisonous snakes in the world and an ordinary resident of the Cambodian plains. Khmer gladly eat Cobra-family lack meat one of the snake on a few days

In such training takes place in the twenty-first century the primitive life of the average citizen of Cambodia.
Our Sirathu the gun, by the way, supposed officially — as a certified guide through the national Park Virachey.
 — But what about the animals? Is there any chance of a meeting with the copray?
 — Oh! It is impossible not to meet them there. In the Park roams the herd heads 60, no less. No one ever hunts — the locals are afraid beracasa spirits (of course, the "savages" Ratanakiri animist, Buddhist culture is almost not affected. — Primas'. ed.). You're lucky. In the dry season to see the bull particularly likely: 70% of the ponds dry up and animals gather around the few remaining. There's a lake nearby. They are often observed there. You want?
I'm not what I wanted, my heart was pounding harder. Without thinking twice, I began to prepare for a meeting with the"hero of my novel."
Luck, however, is not given to "the fool." I suspected that even getting inside the national Park in Cambodia was not an easy task. But so much!
It turned out that the Virachey is fenced off from Banlung by a triple buffer zone, which is a whole story to overcome. At first there are continuous plantations of rubber and cashew nuts, through which at any time it is difficult to get on any transport, except their own feet — because of active agricultural work.
Then begins the already mentioned me hunting Community forest. The density of residential buildings is significantly reduced. In the last — nameless — village along the way decided to stock up on drinking water. However, this is the only product of civilization, which is traded here. Otherwise, it is clear that the population is really not touched by it, and really illiterate. But all are able to play cards, and children without fail years from seven smoke, including opium. This poison has only recently begun to penetrate here from Laos. Drug dealers paved hidden paths right through Virachey, chasing them on motorbikes (another transport will not work) and seduce the primitive to the simple way…
According to Sarath, 10 years ago these places reached the outskirts of the primary jungle. A road already existed, but it was impossible to drive and meter not to meet a hare, Python, or at least the eagle soaring in the sky. Now there is no shortage only in chickens and pigs, and even animistic manners of the advancing mankind indicate its determination to get under the needs and this zone. Many hunting huts, which are still found here, are special prayer the pillars of intricately woven bamboo with a low slung wreaths of leaves. It symbolizes, as explained by Sarath, appeal to the gods of the Forest: in advance, saying that we apologize for our intent to cut down the plot for urgent needs. There is no doubt about the future. Now, in 2008, we are probably one of the last Europeans who, from the hills of the Communal forest on the South side of the San river, contemplate for miles around this very Communal forest, rather than the endless squares of plantations and rice fields.

In the thickets of the river San pagans animists love to break their picturesque cemeteries. It is believed that the closer to nature, the more peaceful to lie in the grave. Much depends on how the person will be buried. "Good" to go to the other world right in the hollowed-out trunk of the beang or neang-noon tree. Come down and dense shroud, rolled from vines. The main thing-that you respectfully and thoroughly carried out, and also established over you your own sculptural image. The most realistic and reflecting the pre-life civil status. Were you a fisherman — get the sculpture on the boat or fish, served in the 1970s Pol pot militia — stand in the cemetery in the cap

Finally, behind the second buffer zone opens this wide river, carrying its water from the Vietnamese mountains to the Mekong. On the pier travelers should get off the ground transport and hire a kayak. Boats longer here once, twice-and obchelsya, so that persons with serious Luggage have to wait for hours. And we were just such faces.
For a hike in the national Park I one needed the following: 
a) hammock, mosquito net and bee net; 
b) bag of products purchased on the market in Banlung - for accompanying persons; 
C) these persons themselves, namely: 
1) conductor; 
2) Ranger. 
The latter is needed by law, without him in the Park have no right to penetrate any guides, no tourists, no journalists, "nor His Majesty the King." (So, to me at least, reported at the Headquarters of the environmental missions.) However, this unknown person with us did not go, but told me to wait at the agreed meeting point exactly at the place where tomponskiy women wear fried chicken for the spirit gardens and borders. 
3) Hunter local with facilities for bonfire. He must come with the Ranger. 
d) Three motorbike. They were taken to the pier for our car on a specially ordered "taxi" with an open body-like "Gazelle". Accordingly, it took a kayak and a large boat…
More precisely-none of the meticulously listed above we did not need. It was over before it started. The Ranger never came. Sarath and I waited in vain for him at the notorious place where women carry chickens.
Mopeds had to send back-for a fee, of course. In total, an attempt to look for a gray bull in Ratanakiri province cost 320 dollars. And this despite the fact that to rent a decent apartment in Phnom Penh is, as you remember, 1660-a year…
Behind appliances with the stupid feeling came back, and we. In desperation and annoyance, I rushed that evening to Banlung, begging, promising profits — in General, trying my best to a ghostly chance at least just to get into the Park. I found the same dumb Chinese guy, ready to your own risk to deliver the "crazy white man" in Virachey — to the nearest lake, suitable for watering large animals. And delivered.
...Since childhood, I vaguely remember that some of the most popular children's fairy tales began with the words, "how terrible was in the woods." Since then (i.e. since childhood) I have repeatedly visited and spent the night in a variety of woods, including exotic, but never came to memory this phrase. And here came.
And it's scary, and unbearable, and I was struggling, cursing the moment when I decided to spend the dark time of day here alone, in the company of only a fire, laid out in parting by the notorious Chinese. Of course, saying "one", I ignore about a billion midges of different breeds and sizes: some "squadrons" fall on your mosquito net from above a battering RAM, others-fall heavy cloud, others-envelop…

Beyond the San. "Understand — there is nothing there, there is even no natural predators — the locals are afraid beracasa spirits. There the world is as it was before the appearance of man..." — said our tour guide

By saying "one," I also do not consider the nobler representatives of the Indochina fauna. Meanwhile, some of them also kindly visited me. Already at midnight — according to my estimates-I met with a dark tiger Python molurus bivittatus Python (these snakes in some places in the wild have become rare — just because the villagers are happy to eat). Came low deer, the kind of which I find it difficult to determine. Of course, there were birds — big Siberian watch necklace and pink chested parrots. They quietly took the "room" of floor on three of my hammock higher up the tree-trunks, lying on the branches of the dark, graceful sculptures.
These pacifying pictures have a little reconciled me with the reality full of midges, and for some time I seem to even dozed off. But... soon heard a muffled splash and not leaving your outboard cover, head turned towards the sound, towards the lake. A small gap between the trees and reeds was occupied with something large and heavy. It's something slightly moving: swaying object could be measured rotations of the tail or neck when drinking. I'm not going to tell you. Moreover, if you ask directly whether I am sure that I did not dream it — I will say: no, I am not sure.
If you continue the interrogation and want to know what I have, in fact, reason to believe that it was a gray bull, and in General the bull, I will have to admit — no.
Travellers are experienced and sophisticated, traveled to Cambodia and all of Southeast Asia far and wide, would laugh at me to say: the first time I spent the night in a hammock on the border of Virachey and was hallucinating him kouprey. Correctly will raise. And yet I saw something. There is always a dream in life.

Chapter 3 

What is tramping? - Misunderstanding in Savannah-Dangerous moment

And again-a throw through a half of the country. Now, as we agreed ," we'll go North." That is, in fact, in the youngest land in the world of all open to more or less safe travel. On a huge map of Hiking trails, posted in the village of Tmatbey, "capital" of the huge Savannah area kulen Prum Tepe in the province of Pre Vihar, marked the date of laying of certain routes — 2005, 2006, 2007. It turns out that we are one of the first. But everything in order.
On the outskirts of Tmatboey, blue-violet river, where the blue-purple people wash your bikes and swim, "it" finally hilly Savannah. She looks beautiful. Scattered on a huge "bowl" villages seem to be an element of the untouched landscape. Where and hide kouprey along with his endangered comrades on the fauna, if not in these fertile lands? Thinking in this way, I did not notice how our car stopped at the gate of the local guest "complex", built in the middle of the wild recently — we entered the first hundred of its visitors. At any time of the day you can get a good lunch with meat curry and excellent brochures on ornithology.

Excursion 4 

What is known Tmatboey?

First of all-birds. Roam the surrounding hills and bantengi, and even red wolves, but it is the glory of the little Mecca for the so-called "birdwatchers", that is, fans to watch the birds, brought the village fame. There are two rare species of ibises (Steller and giant), marabou, almost extinct black stork, various vultures and vultures, eagles, monks, peacocks, pheasants. And all this splendor kulen Prum Tepe owes, imagine, the ancient Angkor Khmer. This is because of the foundations of their destroyed buildings, gradually captured by the secondary forest (and once, in the IX-XIV centuries, the Northern plain was considered a lively and densely populated area!), the so-called tramps turned out. The word itself means in Khmer "pond", "pool", but in an ecological sense it is applied to such foundations filled with silt even in the peak of dry weather. The silt is frogs and lizards; frogs and lizards are the perfect place to feed the birds.
At 5 o'clock in the morning at the 14th degree of Northern latitude in early spring is still pitch black, but at this hour it is necessary to act from the base camp in search of someone who may no longer exist. Armed with torches and backpacks stuffed with mineral water, we are accompanied by wiry toothless Ranger, who speaks no word in any language other than the native, sent to the East from Tmatboey.
In these early hours the wild nature is the most lively: its nightly inhabitants are only removed to rest, day, on the contrary, awaken to active life. It is possible to become deaf from the bird's polyphony: "croaking "of invisible peacocks and pheasants from a thick Bush is mixed with a sharp" UEU!"from somewhere in the crown (the authors of the sound-probably parrots, in any case, their cries are very similar to those that publish Australian cockatoos). Residual hooting of falling asleep owls Ketupa ketupu and Ketupa zeylonensis not too melodically harmonizes with the" command " voice of Rhino birds or sacred mynes (such Cambodian starlings). In General, it feels like you got a free pass to the Edison Denisov concert.

Asian marabou (Leptoptilos dubius)

Everywhere — giant, human growth termite mounds and specific trapping structures Nefeli. By the way, this" national " Cambodian spider is destined for a great scientific and economic future. The fact that his web is strong and elastic — to a greater extent than silk and even synthetic Kevlar, which make body armor.
Meanwhile, our guide became concerned about fanning a handkerchief and look for some detours in the woodlands-already two or three times we met kmun — forest bee Apis dorsata, storm Savannah. In addition, its presence means that there may be small Malay bears nearby. Signs of life of this Ursus malayanus also caught us on the way ... So sharp immersion in the wild world with its laws and signs, obviously, made us, naive residents of the big city, so strong impression that our feelings broke out every minute and expressed in sign language, the only available when communicating with our "Forester". This lack of restraint came back to bite us and completely anecdotally. Ranger began to show signs of concern and clearly look closely to something. We regarded this as an indication that the goal is close. Peering into the horizon, we already mentally see on the background of bright-green meadows and grey shadows with a powerful rumps, they remind us of large ungulates. We sneak up on them with the caution of real naturalists, but ... the silhouettes of the alleged bulls turn out to be the links of the wooden fence of our base camp. It's 11: 00 in the morning. «Arrived.»
- What happened?! — we literally pounce on the surprised Ranger. - Why did you come back so early, because you were going over the river Khnat, to the far Eastern hills?!
You will laugh and do the right thing, but it turned out that our excitedly interrogative gestures in the woods unhappy Khmer took the call of a tired tourist-go, they say, home. Enough is enough, were tired, were…
It seemed that the key day of our stay in Tmatboey hopelessly lost. But here we are, like any normal travelers, bit the bit. Knowing from my own experience that in the afternoon to go in search of large mammals is already hopeless, we, nevertheless, went: now rushed from the village strictly for the North-West, towards the famous tambeisky of tampagov.
Overall, our hike was similar to the "obstacle race": the scorching sun above the Savannah, the dense network of creepers through which barely run without it — Indochinese analog machete, red ants, the Latter strongly attacked me when I bent over the flower Honeywell international Inc. It is believed that he brings good luck, but he did not bring it to me: it was worth it to bend down, as the collar is unknown where the whole landing of insects fell.

Of Koh Ker. Abandoned in the forests of the city and temples, entwined with vines-a characteristic feature of Cambodian secondary forests. Where the jungle returned after the middle Ages, once life flowed, kingdoms were born and collapsed

Excursion 5 

And number, and skill

Red ants-weavers of the genus Oecophylla in the absolute standings may well be called today the most dangerous predators of Southeast Asia (and at the same time and Africa). In any case, there is not a single animal, large or small, which would have effective protection from them. Thank God that these large — up to several centimeters — red robbers hunt and gather selection of aphids in trees, on the ground, only to jump from one tree to another. But not be good for someone who invades their habitat: the deer or the boar, accidentally pushed dry the barrel, which was their nest, or just a person accidentally touched. Weavers are able to attack instantly, " crumbling "in large groups on the body of the" invader", and pursue him for several kilometers. Their bites are extremely painful and moderately poisonous.

Near Phnom Penh. Temples and pagodas are often located on the banks of Lotus ponds. It is known after all, what value this flower has in Buddhism: it symbolizes waters from which the world is born, spiritual disclosure of the person and so forth

Well, I can attest — in the first minutes of the pain I literally freaked out...
It's hard to tell how long it's been before we've dealt with ants. Hand hours was approaching 16.00, there was the worst hell, which is only possible in March-about 40 degrees in the sun. In conditions of almost 100% humidity it is almost unbearable.
Back to Tmatboey was about 20 kilometers, and, having satisfied the monitoring poluodichavshie water buffaloes on the banks of a muddy rivulet, we consider for the benefit stop moving forward.
On that memorable day, if we didn't find any "hints" at bull copray, then at least we experienced the ability of not-so-well-trained white journalists to hang around from dawn to dusk without fainting in the wet Asian Savannah. And this, believe me, dear readers, is already a lot. My feeling, anyway.

Chapter 4 

Domestic or wild? - Huts on chicken legs — how to grow a crocodile

Wonderful to feel like a guest here, the Internet user client, in General, the grit of the modern global civilization in less than a day after he fought with ants in Shorea species wood. But the fact remains-we are in Siem reap, the largest and most popular among foreigners city of Cambodia, tiresome noisy and crowded.
In the middle of the XIX century on the site of modern Siem Reap near the Bank of the river of the same name was a pathetic fishing and rice-growing village. But she got a lucky lottery ticket. In 1861, the French naturalist Henri Muo wandered through the surrounding forests and unexpectedly stumbled upon a string of majestic sacred buildings, reproducing the layout of the location of the stars in the constellation of the Dragon: the temples of Bayon, Angkor Wat... "I Saw the monuments of construction art are huge in size and, in my opinion, are a model of the highest level compared to any monuments preserved since ancient times. I have never felt as happy as I am now in this magnificent tropical setting. Even if I knew I was going to die, I would never trade this life for the pleasures and comforts of the civilized world." Perhaps he had a premonition: a few months later, Muo fell ill with malaria and died after suffering 20 days.

Of course, the word "discovered", which modern encyclopedias apply to the description of Angkor by the Frenchman, is conditional, as it is always conditional in relation to archeology. Residents of the shores of the great Fresh sea knew that there are hundreds of stone temples in the forests. They sometimes even used the fragments of the ancient limestone as assistant construction material. Just before the arrival of the European scientist no one tried to inform the world about Angkor, and he stood in peace and quiet for four centuries.
The newly found capital of the Khmer Empire very quickly earned a reputation as another wonder of the world. Although UNESCO only in 1992 included it in the list of cultural monuments of world importance, already in the years of French colonialism, the flow of curious visitors here has become significant.
At the same time, except for the elevation of Siem Reap, economic and psychological, biorhythmic and technical life on Tonle SAP changed surprisingly little. As in the IX century, the Fresh sea provides food, work and everything in this life to the million Khmer settled around it.

Excursion 6 

Fresh sea

The area of the largest inland water body of Indochina in the dry season, when The "big fresh lake" shrinks as much as possible (we saw it in this state), is about 2700 km2. But then, "in the rain", when the Tonle SAP river turns back from the Mekong and catches up with huge masses of moisture in its shores, "breadwinner of the Khmer Empire" increases to 16,000 km2 and an average of 9 meters of depth — as they say, feel the difference. To this day, a year from Tonle SAP extracted 300 thousand tons of living, trembling biomass — catfish, carp, giant snakehead, actually freshwater snakes and turtles.
On the role of the lake, as well as many other notable features of the Khmer civilization, the first chronicler was Zhou Daguan in his famous treatise on travel to different lands in the East. This diplomat in the service of the Beijing court in 1296-1297 years visited the " rich and densely populated country of the southern barbarians, "described its customs and signs:" there are many plants that bloom much more lush (than in China. — Primas'. ed.) ... of the four — legged rhinos, elephants, wild Buffalo and "forest horses" - animals, which we do not have. ...The bulls wild and domestic farmers are used as draft animals or ride directly on their backs, and, when the bull dies, he is not eating, because it is a noble beast dedicates his life to the service of man…»
By the way, many modern biologists in all seriousness hypothesize that, they say, cowprey, which in his first reign, in the 1950s, king Norodom Sihanouk declared one of the state symbols, in fact, are not naturally wild species, and feral descendants of the ancient Khmer cattle. The one that describes Zhou Daguan. Otherwise, it is impossible to explain why they have never been heard of in India, or in Burma, or on the Malay Peninsula, or in Indonesia, where 90% of the fauna coincided and coincides with the Cambodian. Only on the lands of the former Khmer Empire found this walking mystery.

In the Buddhist tradition, any ceremony-whether a wedding, a funeral, a temple holiday - is necessarily accompanied by" characters " in ritual masks. The mask those dreadful actually depict typically the good gods and spirits, designed to help people in their endeavors

Well, if such a" secondary " hypothesis is true, the ancestral home of the cowprey should be considered nothing more than the heart of the medieval Angkor power — the area of lake Tonle SAP, where we are now. Of course, if we talk about the distribution of species in modern nature, here now the least you can expect to meet with a wild bull. Except that in the center of Phnom Penh, these chances are even smaller. But other "attractions" here, perhaps, more than anywhere else in Cambodia.
For example, the classic wonder of the Cambodian Ethnography — floating villages (in our case this is the village Chepang). Local life is a paradoxical mixture of the most primitive life cycle with some comfort. On the one hand, the day of chuangtzu and the like is composed like this: early in the morning got up, and untied the raft from the threshold, went to the far fishing "new settlements" (if you're a man). Or going to the water "garden" — a kind of fenced natural aquarium in front of each house, where edible algae grow and krill is fed-scored" salad " for Breakfast (woman). The house itself — brown-wooden or painted in intricate blue, red and yellow paint while rocking on the waves, as standing right on a tightly linked together a hundred or so tarred bamboo trunks: this is Paul. Children get up, climb into their own "boat-shells" (each local resident knows how to manage them from five years) and go to Church. Yes, the people of Chilanga as the other twelve similar villages on Tonlesap — Catholic Christians. The fact is that they are of a long — standing origin-the South Vietnamese, and their ancestors still there succumbed to the French missionary influence. Children, however, swim to the drifting of the shack under a massive cross for prayer: the Church of God is in Chiwanga and court house, and the school Junior classes, and a meeting-place for discussions of current Affairs. Pensioners take the positions, having hung from steps of a foot in water-they are ready to expect tourists and to offer them any local knick-knacks. Towards noon we return fathers with their catch, and their wives are taken to cut it — the stench is unbearable in this.
On the other hand, in the back, bedrooms you can easily find a stylishly painted girl who, lying on the couch (he is quite firmly standing on bamboo), leafing through Vogue or Cosmopolitan. Above every second shack is a satellite dish, and dining rooms for visitors are furnished not even without a claim to chic.
In addition, almost every farm is equipped with sophisticated and expensive incubator equipment for growing crocodiles. This business became widespread in the early 1990s and became the main means of earning local residents. The global demand for crocodile leather products then rose sharply, and the local mastered a new occupation, which was also not too time-consuming. Just digging in his backyard - at the shore, at the entrance to the house from the land — a large aviary, which instead of the roof cover boards to walk directly over the reptiles. Divide the enclosure into three compartments. In one you put two opposite-sex Mature individuals (meters on five long — very frightening show), in the second — "ready" to sale young growth of different age and the size, from half a meter to three, in the third — specially processed and heated by blue lamps sand with eggs. The offspring appears on average once per month, and trouble him no crocodile is free and there is not a week to live in tight spaces with dozens of their relatives side by side — and nothing will happen.

Excursion 7 


The basis of the welfare of the Tonle SAP drifting people are reptiles species Crocodylus siamensis from the wildlife of the lake, alas, disappeared long ago-20 years ago, during the war. The basis of their diet, of course, are fish and water amphibians, but "fit" and all the food that just do not bring to the village — up to plastic bottles of soda, which children jokingly throw in crocodiles from the bridges. The species reaches sexual maturity at the age of 10. Female lays 20-50 eggs at a time. After about 80 days crocodiles hatch from them, the mother tears off the nest and carries them to the water. In captivity it is in normal nutrition occurs regularly every 30-40 days. The total number of Siamese crocodiles in the wild is now estimated at 5,000 individuals. They are listed in the International Red book as endangered.
But all this, I repeat, applies only to crocodiles in nature. With regard to artificial conditions, 5 thousand species Siamese crocodile can easily be counted in one Chiwanga.


This story ends as, probably, it is necessary to come to an end to all romantic stories. Beyond the mountains (Cardamom and Elephant), at the blue sea (Gulf of Thailand). Early in the morning we sit on a small pier and wait for the readiness of a small boat with an open deck — we have to sail to the island with the conditional name of the Second Angkor. The journey will take no more than half an hour: now you can see on the horizon a piece of rock above the water surface. A few years ago, he was still completely naked and empty-except that sea turtles laid eggs on its deserted beaches and nesting seagulls. And then it was rented by one enterprising Russian — and now the Islands do not know.
Don't know and waking up behind us of the city of Kompong som, which is only less than a decade as called in honor of king Norodom — Sihanouk. We can safely say-this is such a Cambodia, which it would like to see the king and his officials, Cambodia westernized, washed, new. With neat bungalows and villas instead of pile villages, with "civilized" fast food instead of fried cicadas in the squares, with luxury hotels instead of camps for otvyaznyh adventurers, with wildlife, "cornered" in the narrow squares of the territory, where tourists are comfortable to watch it.
At the same time, the Cambodian Riviera has not yet managed to reach the Thai level of service, so while there is a real Paradise for the Euro-American "hippie heirs", lovers of romance and even people who want to "get lost in the world", forever abandon the bustle of Western civilization. Life is cheap — a few hundred dollars can easily live a month. The day is supposed to sleep — off in local dance halls. You want to do science, you're welcome. The business is also very special and there is no obstacle…

"Natural" color wool Gibbons-at all something, usually white or black. And this young female just managed to fall out in the red paint

Here and Nikolay Doroshenko, herpetologist from Tashkent has become, in the end, "white Khmer", retired to his time in Cambodia, happily combining with science entrepreneurship. Settled after long wanderings in the desert as well as Yemen. Opened the restaurant, and under him-would directly kill assembled by a menagerie. Now it is a large tropical garden with hundreds of aquariums and terrariums, bird cages and ponds. And over the years of collecting Nicholas proceeded on foot the whole country. Of course, kouprey he was also looking for. And that was never found — despite all his determination and tirelessness, alas, does not speak in favor of the hypothesis that the bull survived. Yes, kouprey in the collection. there are no does in the area of Sihanoukville. And maybe even in Cambodia...
But the attentive reader probably already guessed what I mean-even if the skeptics are right and it is so, do not be upset.
During our short but intense travels through this country, we have been deeply imbued with the feeling that even unsuccessful searches for someone or something in the wild do not leave a taste of defeat. On the contrary, you begin to feel as if you have opened the veil of a certain world, which is deeply natural in nature, and this circumstance itself inspires calm confidence: nothing terrible has happened and will not happen to the unique environment. Just because heading the "traces" of the same koprea you like in an ancient Indo-China the parable, he to some extent will be copeam. You are imbued with the laws and rules of life in a new environment — the laws imposed by the natural course of things, and therefore — perfect.
Here we roam the rocky island, which the enterprising Russian turned into a hotel for corporate trips, feed the Gibbons with mango and lychee fruits and think — are they wild monkeys, or do they live in captivity? This way and that. On the one hand, of course, they were brought here specifically to monitor them, study them. On the other-they are the most that neither is a natural way of life, they decide where to settle, even multiply. But having met some Kipling banderlogs in an abandoned forest town, we do not declare them domestic animals on the grounds that they jump on the former human dwellings. Just on the island, and throughout Cambodia — not wild nature is transformed "by man", and he — often even imperceptibly for himself — creeps into its indestructible space.
In Sihanoukville I was told a joke-a few years ago in the local Harbor about a month stood a battleship of the American Navy. He brought a variety of humanitarian aid and new uniforms for the Khmer army. There was a rumor that some jackets were found traces of bullets-Hello from Iraq. But now not about this. In General, brought all sorts of things. The sailors were allowed to go ashore every night. As you might expect, prices in the port and places of entertainment at once soared to the heavens. Moreover, there were cases of illegal hunting with service weapons in the nearest riep national Park. But this is not the main thing. Imagine, when it came time for the ship to leave, it turned out that several soldiers — notice, Americans, citizens of the most economically prosperous country in the world, and all that — disappeared. Dissolved in Cambodia, even changing the oath. Some of them, they say, saw then in different parts of the country — they perfectly felt and were, as far as it is possible to judge, all are happy.
I don't judge these Americans, but I understand them. I myself crept to the head of the treacherous thought: what if to spit on everything, to forget about Russia and the journal of the obligations and affections. Become so that will copeam for the native of the Western world at the latitudes of this, distant and unreal?


  "Around the World" in 2008, №7.    

 Until next time, @r3benok   

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