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Hart_Fellow_Something_Decayed_and_Rotten

Hart_Fellow_Something_Decayed_and_Rotten - Hart Fellow...

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Hart Fellow 2003-04 Seth Napier Cambodia Something Decayed and Rotten I am beginning to feel that most of my stories and letters from Cambodia begin with me  sitting on the back of a moped, bouncing along a dirt road in the midst of idyllic scenery and  peaceful stilt houses. This one finds me gripping the seat with sore and reddened palms,  receiving yet another spine jarring reminder of why Cambodia, along with Mozambique and  Congo, has been deemed by many to have the worst roads in the world. Indeed during some stretches I periodically had to get off and walk, or take detours through  surrounding fields or people's yards. At times I found myself wishing I could consult a  dictionary to determine exactly what characteristics a strip of countryside must have in order  to actually qualify as a road. I was making my way with a friend slowly and painfully to Samlot, a village that will send  shivers down any Cambodian's spine. It's a place associated with the rise of the Khmer  Rouge and was a major stronghold of the guerrilla group until 1998. It is safe now, but many  are still afraid to go there. As the road got progressively worse, the scenery changed as well. Instead of the flat and  now golden rice fields sprinkled with coconut and sugar palms which surround Battambang,  we were now in the foothills of the remote Cardamom Mountains, an area where tigers still  roam freely. As always in Cambodia, my attention was of necessity fixed on the road  directly ahead, intent on bracing for every hump, dip and crater before it came. My curiosity  at the new surroundings was strong, however, and I kept stealing furtive glances around me  to take in the scenery. The steep hills were covered with lush green forest. The trees shot up vertically to quite a  height before attempting to spread out their branches above the trees around them. The  resulting image was of a dense and wild rainforest, with multiple canopies cascading down  the hillsides. Tangled vines twisted up tree trunks and hung from branches, while exotic  looking epiphytes grew high up, in any nook and cranny they could find. I was thinking how much fun it would be were it possible to explore some of the forest,  when, as we came around a hill, the panorama changed abruptly. The whole hillside and  valley had been clear-cut. Only a few crooked and branchless trunks of dead trees were left  jutting skyward like ominous, bony fingers. Stumps littered the hillside and a few fallen trees  remained. After the untouched forested hillsides I had been traversing, this was a  disconcerting, but not wholly unexpected sight. I had heard about how prized some of 
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