Saturday, December 16, 2006

Samoot Communication

We eventually stop at a junction where we see many boulders, and can view the temple off in the distance. This was the landmark we were shown by our contact in Pehnom Penh. We are amped, and want to hike to the temple from where we are to get a lay of the land and check out some boulders. We begin to communicate our plan to the drivers and are met with significant dissent. I role film and observe the interaction - and pay particular attention to the body language, facial expressions, tone, and pace of the communication. From what I understand, the guys think we are crazy for wanting to hike to the temple. It is about 4:00 and I guess that we have about 1.5 hours until the sun sets. All four are confident that we can make headway and just want to walk around. Josh does his best to describe what we want.

"NO, NO!" Samoot says. He is the driver that speaks the most english. Which is very little. He is highly animated. His pace and intensity increases.

Samoot waves his hands frantically over his head and shouts out "Mokwai! Mokwai!" "We go back. We go back." "Very Bad" He points at the sun and his actions are beginning to seem a bit crazed. His facial expressions begin to shift from concern to anger. He wants to leave - now.

Local villagers have now arrived and a small group stares at us and talks among themselves about this random group of farang (white foreigners).

I am filming what I can out of the exchange and we quickly gather together to discuss what we should do. After a few minutes, Ryan suggests that maybe we should not anger the only guys with motos on the first day. We all agree. Show some respect and go with the flow. This is not our land, and as much as we think we might know about travelling through this terrain - it is our first day. Also, we agree that the sun goes down much faster than it does in the US. Time seems to move quickly and we have about 1 hour before it is dark.

We load up on the motos and head off down the narrow, sand filled jungle side trail. We expect to return the way we came. Ironically, we continue down the
path, which brings us closer to the big wall. Funny - because had we know that we would have got back on the motos immediately. Along the path, we see random villagers
with machetes, old, young, male, female, more cows, and the scene just seems surreal.

We move through a clearing and Ryan, Josh and I stop. John and Samoot are nowhere
to be found. We scope out the wall with a good view for the first time. It is big - we think about 1000 feet. Yet it is still impossible to discern the quality of the rock, the steepness, and if it is protectable. Our excitment builds. We are standing in a rice patty in Cambodia looking at big grante slab, envisioning how we will climb it for the first time.

It is getting dark and we quickly take recon photos and are back on the bikes.

We meet up with John - and he has been waiting for us for several minutes. He tells us Samoot keeps talking about Mokwai - and how Samoot is scared stiff and went speeding down the tral in fear of the darkness - and the Mokwai. He wants to keep going - NOW. We are confused - and will hear Johns story later...

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