a sneak preview: first paragraph of Introduction

By: gregmccann

Jan 13 2012

Category: Uncategorized


Focal Length:6mm
Shutter:1/0 sec

our guide explaining the topography of Virachey to Richard

Few people have ever heard of, let alone seen, the sacred Haling Halang mountains on the Cambodian side of the border with Laos in Ratanakiri province. American pilots might have gazed at them as they dropped cluster bombs from the air over various arteries of the Ho Chi Minh Trail on their way back to Thailand, though according to the local Brao people, they would have missed these two mountains. Fire cannot burn them, and airplanes cannot fly over them, a “magic man” from a village near the Sesan River once told me. But those war pilots must have had one hell of a view. To this day, a carpet of jungle ripples out from a chain of mountains that separate Laos and Cambodia, a vast tropical wilderness that is home to some of the most amazing –and endangered- wildlife on Earth. In the center of the jungle on the Cambodian side is a large golden clearing, a rolling plateau of savanna hills known as the Veal Thom Grasslands, an area so expansive that it takes two days to walk its perimeter. As those pilots dropped their payloads on hidden Viet Cong trails, sub-canopy routes that the Americans could have only been guessing at, I imagine they must have marveled at what lay below them: an endless tapestry of tree crowns bisected by brown rivers, rugged mountains, and the inexplicable grasslands appearing like an amber Serengeti in the dark, elephantine forest.


2 comments on “a sneak preview: first paragraph of Introduction”

  1. Hi Greg, loved reading about your treks. Sadly, the Virachay NP blog has now gone blank. How would one get in touch with the crew you used and which items would you deem essential to bring? Thanks

    • Guido, it is becoming tough to arrange treks to Virchey now, because unfortunately what is happening is that large portions of the park are being converted into agricultural plantations. The trek to the grasslands is thus far unaffected by this development, so if you plan to do that trek (which I strongly recommend), you have to do it soon. I will see if I can get a new phone # and get back to you soon. -Greg

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