Beware White Rumps
Twitching On Bokor Mountain, Kampot, Cambodia
I suppose it was the white-rumped shama (or charmer) that convinced me to extend my stay by one day in Kampot, and where better to extend that stay but on Bokor Mountain in the casino hotel. Splash out. See more birds. Stay for one more night, but in ultra comfort. After my five- dollar jobbie, near Kampot Market….splendour!!! Neither Steinbeck nor Robbie Burns forbade me, and no god of lightning flashed that crap happens to happen. No follow-up god of thunder roared that the best-laid plans of mice and men often get cocked-up, and the white-rumped shama didn’t just have a lovely, white rear but a sirenesque song to boot!
So, it was that like a friendly rather than unfriendly narrator of “The Fall Of The House Of Usher” I stared somewhat bemusedly at the yellow walls of Thansur Sokha Hotel, thansur meaning paradise in Khmer. I decided I was going to be in paradise for 85 dollars! The price of one day on my favourite mountain in Cambodia!
Now, it needs saying that I’d already blogged (two years previous to this) that you should not get caught up Bokor Mountain in a thunderstorm, and I still remembered the perils of that night and my dangerous descent off that dark-faced and rain-seething mountain, but as with all memories, and even history itself, there was dimness attached, and optimism told me history never repeats itself twice, lightning (ha! ha!) never strikes twice in the same place…..so imagine my chagrin when the winds whipped, the clouds smashed around, the dark sky blackened and the bullet-like rain started. And this time I was down the mountain with my binoculars out, trying to identify “a brown jobbie”, and I had to get up to the top to get to my thansur!
Of course I could have waited but I was already soaked to the skin. I continued to ascend while the lightning flashed and the thunder followed immediately afterwards, frightening the wet pants off me. I saw huddled shapes under sparse bushes, and knew that was one way of avoiding getting struck but I put my faith in luck and hurtled across the top of Bokor with a thousand flashes seeming to bite my heels and motorbike wheels.
I did make it back to my luxury hotel (otherwise I wouldn’t be writing, would I!?) and there I dried out and got warm again – sort of. It took me a good part of four hours to regain body-temperature. I sorted a few things out, and I did curse my luck that my only afternoon right up on top of Bokor had been ruined. The rain continued well into the night.
The Next Day
The next day I searched for charmers and shamas. I wasn’t disappointed and the white rump I saw serenaded me with a lovely song, but now as I conclude my article, I just wonder if Bokor and I are incompatible. What I really mean is, does that magnificent, forested glory of a mountain, full of hornbills, eagles, minivets, honey buzzards, and the like, does it hold a grudge against me? Will its gods unleash a third storm?
Will I survive the next one?