Same the next.
So we made a split decision to head to Kep last Friday and after the car was packed we made it out to Stung Meanchay ( scene of recent flooding ) where imagine our surprise, they are doing road works and there is a one meter trench 2 meters deep across the main highway with a hastily slung plank for motos to cross but no way for cars to get over. No signage back down the road diverting traffic or warning of no thoroughfare. Just a bloody trench. So we backtracked a bit and found our way over to the Kampot road which we have not been on for a couple of years due to the route being totally overhauled. What a difference. We comfortably sat on 120kph pretty much the whole way and arrived at our land in time for a few late afternoon beers. The sun was dipping and a breeze was blowing and the temperature was perfect…a little cool even ! I pulled out a bunch of dead thicket and weeds and lit a bonfire and burnt off and it made me very nostalgic for the farm back home.
No prizes for guessing where we ate that night ( Kim Ly ! ) and with the wind howling and the rain pattering, we were all soon tucked up in bed. The next day after a bowl of Pho down on the beach we picked Juntha up and let him show us a hectare of land “out near The Vine towards Kampong Trach….$3000”. We are not even on the market for more land but I think….hell…..if it has the same coastal views as The Vine….someone might want it. Alas, as we turned off the main dirt road and onto a secondary track and headed away from the hills ( with the coastal views ) and down into the flatlands, I feared a bargain was not to be. We stopped the car and trudged through some wet fields until the owners were giving us random hand signals about where the land stopped and started. No road in “but no problems you can do ” and no way was I remotely happy.
I dropped the girls back off at Vanna Bungalows ( note to self ; do not stay there for at least the next few months – the noise from the pool project starts at 7am and finishes at 5pm) and headed out to the block via the nursery where I bought a variety of plants to put in. A waste of time and money as I know the cattle will get them as we have no perimeter fencing but I cannot help myself – I like to potter ! I start to grub out some weed and small tree stumps and my bloody shovel handle snaps within minutes. Bugger. I still have trees to plant so this is not good but with a bit of persistence I fix it. It breaks again 10 minutes later. Have you ever tried digging holes with a machete ? Not easy i can tell you. Whilst I am sweating and swearing and having a shit time generally, a young lad of about 15 grazes his cows and studies me. Soon enough his mate rocks up and after a bit of a conversation his mate heads off and minutes later returns with a hoe. Ahhhhh….they can smell the cash and I can smell the holes and with a quick nod they are into it. With a bit of supervision they are soon finished and I give them a buck each.
Anyways all this gets me thinking about fencing again and as we toil away a young Khmer guy rides up on a moto and says ” Hi…I am Mr Moto !”. Turns out he works and studies with Andrew up at Kep Farm and Andrew has told him about my interest in a rock wall. I explain to him basically what I would like in an ideal world and he seems to understand and we agree to meet the following day with some mates of his who are…surprise !….wall builders. We have already been quoted roughly $40 a lineal meter for a rock wall and with 160m to do, this makes the wall almost as expensive as the land itself. As much as I love the rock walls in and around Kep a) I to not want to overcapitalise the block and b) I would like to be able to see the surrounding countryside in all its glory.I then head up to Kep gardens to have a beer with Andrew and he tells me his guys are quoting $80/meter ! Struth. Andrew then shows me the extremely cheap chain link fence he has done around his hen house ( also cheep ! ) and I am converted. I do some rough calculations and figure we can do our land for $1000 or under with nicer posts and a timber cap along the top to finish it off.With some climbers like bougainvillea you will not even see it so I will now look into getting some proper mesh in from Thailand or Australia.
Back down to the waterfront for dinner, into bed early ( 7pm ! ) with the wind howling and early to rise yesterday. Gotta love those workers ! IT’S SUNDAY FFS !! We have some pancakes for breakfast and then head back out to the land. Grace has a wonderful time playing Farm Girl and feeds the pigs until their eyes are bulging. Leakhana and I sit under the neighbors house with a coffee and the conversation drifts around to fencing. I show them the photos of Andrews fence and I then show her the size I want the posts at using her cow shed posts as an example ( thickness and length ) and lo and behold she says that her and her husband can bring 40 poles out of the bush for us at $4 a pop and that they will be good for at least 15 years. That’s $120 for the poles !. We are sworn to secrecy as they do not want the government knowing they are felling trees which is kind of funny because Juntha is a cop and he is sitting right there with us.I struggle with the ethical question of logging Cambodia for a about a second…..and then….ripper Rita. Sign us up ! She also says her husband can level the land ( removing all the old crop furrows and holes ) with his cow and plough and not to worry….the grass will come back better than ever. Progress !
The next thing I know our neighbor is telling us her mother has a couple of blocks up in the valley past Kep Farm for sale . It is “beautiful” she assures us so I think what the hell we will go look as I have always wanted to up that road. We all pile in the truck and soon we are rising,rising,rising. The breeze gets fresher and the views from the high side if the road are awesome as they look straight down the valley to the coast. There are hills everywhere and it is very lush. The first block she shows us is nice enough but not really wow. The second one is attractive right off the bat. This 1.5ha parcel is on the low side of the road so lacks panoramic view but there are two huge Mango trees in one corner, a huge patch of some crop or other growing and then a path through to the back reveals another big cleared section shaded by some mature palm trees and…my favorite….a freshwater stream with small swimming hole hidden under the brush. We still don’t know what she wants for it (not that we have any money !) and my gut feeling that land up in that Valley is just too risky with the government powers. It was bloody nice though. Run some power up there and you could run around naked all day in the sunshine. So there you have it…..another nice weekend down the coast and a little bit of headway made on improving the block. Stay tuned folks.