Sunday, April 17, 2005

Cambodia - Day 4 Part 1

On Day 3, Max had exclaimed, “Main aur khandhar nahin dekh sakta yaar!” ("I can’t see any more ruins!") So we had planned to go see the river of the thousand lingas on Day 4, to take a break from the ruins. Max was very excited.

Day 4 was a day of laughs! Early in the morning, as we shared a good breakfast with the filthy fish in the pond, the van driver came to fetch us. He leaned over and very politely said, “I’m sorry, my van is not well today. Can I arrange for another one to take you to the river?” I tried to stifle my laughter as I sent a mental ‘Get well soon’ to his van. It did not help that the radio was playing, and the RJ announced the next song as one by ‘Michael learn to rocks’.

The river of the thousand lingas was really far away, so we planned to take a van to the place and then trek the rest of the way. The road to the river was incredibly long and wobbly. Finally, we reached an unpaved road, lined by bushes, and apparently the danger of that part containing landmines was very real.

The road more taken

We got out of the van onto the hot and dusty road.

Suddenly Max declared that his leg had gone to sleep. (Looks like Chin had had company in the van!) Anyway, in order to wake his leg up, Max suddenly started doing a crazy tribal dance. What he did not know was that Ro (oh the evil evil Ro!) was filming his performance. It’s a pity I can’t upload the video here, but it was easily one of the most hilarious moments of the Cambodia trip!

I did manage to capture a still shot though.

After a few minutes of senseless laughing, we demanded an encore. Max indignantly said, “What do you mean phir se karo? Khatam ho gaya!” (“What do you mean do it again? It’s over!”) More senseless laughing followed. Every time I think of that incident, I crack up.

To think that we thought the dance was the best of Max’s ‘Maxness’ we’d seen. But no no no, the “jemb” was yet to come!

We started the journey towards the river…

…but paused to pose.

The actual trek started after this bridge.

We had to trek through a rocky forest, and because it was an uphill trek, it seemed incredibly long and exhausting. But of course, we had realised that the more tedious the climb, the less spectacular the results. So expecting a damper at the end, all of us were really making the most of the trek.

This is how the path looked.

And this is how the trek was.

At really steep places, they had build wooden staircases for the trekkers. There were quite a few people who were going to visit the river that day.

This mini-trekker was one of them.

We finally reached the river of the thousand lingas, and the first question I asked was, “River? What river?”

There was no river. It was just a puny and pathetic stream, probably because of the dry season. It was quite sad, really.

And here were a few of the thousand lingas.

Max looks happy in spite of his thousand lingas turning out to
be a disappointment.

People roamed around the place, trying to find something interesting to make the trek worth it.

Even kids who were commissioned to find stuff, tried hard but were unsuccessful.

It was disappointing, and the day would really have been a waste if not for Max’s dancing. However, the day became embossed in gold because of Max’s “jemb”.

The “jemb”

Some friends are always with you, even if they are not physically present. Reghu, our 'Mellu' friend, is such a case. Since Day 4 was all about Max’s jump from the tree, in honour of Reghu we started referring to it as the 'jemb', ‘jump’ being a word that lends itself easily to the ‘Mellu’ dictionary. I can’t imagine the number of times poor Reghu must have choked, as we mutilated more and more words to 'mellufy' them. This part will describe Max’s jemb in delightful detail.

Soon enough, we realised that there was nothing else to see there, and that we should head back. In order to make the return journey exciting, the guys started looking around for things to do. I suudenly realised Max was missing, and looked around for him.

And the next thing you know…(??!!)

Even Chin who would normally do this…

...was now doing this!!

I turned to tell Viv how unusual a sight that was, and realised that Viv wasn’t there either!

Oh geez!

And I found myself talking to myself! Check out how lost I look at the apparent disappearance of my travelmates!

Where have all the cowboys gone?

By then, Max had realised that he was too high up, and any jump would prove to be fatal. So cautiously, he climbed down to a lower branch, which was about a foot higher than the ground. “Jemb! Jemb! Jemb!” We terrestrials egged him on, and finally he decided he would make the jump!

We decided to video all the action in true Bollywood style. Ro, the talented cameraman, who had earlier captured Max’s sensational ‘Dirty Dancing’ was entrusted with filming this one too.

Max the hero takes a few minutes to make sure he remembers his lines.

The stage was set. Max checked his position. Ro and I adjusted our cameras. Jeeves and Chin watched on amused, either by the sight of Max up on a really low hanging branch, or at the serious enthusiasm of the rest of us.

Viv remarked, “Shoot it from as low as you can. At least that way, the branch will appear higher!” Hideous laughter followed, of which Max seemed totally unaware!

At the count of three (in French, by the multilingual Ro), Max “jembed”.

And here comes the gala jemb! *drumroll*

And errr… within half a second, he was on the ground!

The hero, amazed at the brevity of the shot, tries to slink away unnoticed.

It was over so suddenly that we were amazed. The branch was apparently lower than we thought. Except Max, that is. And then he created one of the most memorable moments of the Cambodia trip, when he looked at the tree and said…

“That was quite high, yaar!”

I had never in my life laughed harder. That particular statement by Max will remain in my memory forever.

Max believes that he made the “quite high” statement while looking at another branch, which actually was “quite high”. But we refuse to believe him. We don't want to kill the joy we derived from the incident.

If you did not get enough, watch Viv do a repeat of Max’s awesome performance!

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

And Step 4!

We made our way back, still guffawing at the incident…

…while Max stood proud of his achievement.

I salute you, dude! You’re the best! :)


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