Red Earth = Oompa Loompas

Trip Start Jun 26, 2009
Trip End Jun 29, 2010

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Tuesday, November 10, 2009

(We were actually in Ban Lung in the Ratanakiri Province...)

The description in our guide book for Ban Lung was that it was full of adrenaline-packed activities… Not quite but still a lot of fun!

We had a horrendous journey from Kampong Cham; 10 hours in total in a packed bus with no AC or fan. And, it was DUSTY! Seriously… We were orange by the time we arrived! The province is known as red earth and it's dry season here so you get covered in the stuff! Plus, about a couple of hours from Ban Lung, the river cuts over the road so we had to navigate that. It took us an hour to go about 20m! Not because there was a queue or anything, but (it seemed) we were waiting for the bus driver to pluck up the courage to go through it.

The fun part of the journey, however, was when we were waiting for the bus driver to go through the river. All the passengers were off the bus (as it was too hot on it) and Drew got dragged to a shack thing by a local guy. It turns out the shack was a makeshift pub! All the locals were babbling to Drew in Cambodian and gave him a shot of rice wine which he graciously accepted. The gang was all clearly inebriated (one of them fell over whilst talking to Drew!) and found Drew hilarious! They then started giving him some food to try… Luckily, the bus seemed to be loading again so I managed to drag Drew away before they started feeding him some more rice wine.

We decided to give ourselves a day off as it had been a manic couple of weeks so hit the market for some essentials (eg bug spray, shampoo and a pen!). It was a lot of fun as it really was a locals market (unlike some markets we’ve been to which are clearly aimed at tourists). It stank to high heaven but we managed to not only get our supplies but also interact with the locals (even if we did have to resort to pointing!). The rest of the day was spent exploring the town and chilling out.

The next day was a weird one… we had a nightmare morning as we’d (reluctantly) booked a tour but weren’t told that we were, in fact, leaving 2 hours later than agreed. They then sent two motos with drivers when we only needed one driver but it took ages to sort out as the manager wasn’t around. We decided to ditch the whole thing (after a wasted 3 hours) and head into town to hire us a moped. We then went to the nearby waterfall where we did an elephant ride around the jungle which was AWESOME! It was hugely uncomfortable (as expected) but also so cool. They are such beautiful animals (and so naughty – he kept stopping to eat). We then went to get a closer look at the waterfall. It’s on a ledge so you can climb round the back of it for some wicked pics.

We then head back to get showered (we were orange again) before going to the crater lake. Apparently it’s a perfect circle so they think it was formed when a crater hit the earth years ago. We went as the sun was going down so it was so pretty and peaceful. We both wanted to swim in it but were put off a bit when we saw something splashing around in it (we think it was a big fish but possibly the Asian Loch Ness?!). We managed to get in long enough for photos and then got the hell out!

We ended the day with a bit of ride around the lake near our hotel where we discovered a mini-market (called mean mean market; they also have a mean mean hotel… what weird names!) where we maxed out on snacks for the journey the next day. Our new favourite snack here is fruity cookies which are like fig rolls. Mmmm… (We’ve generally been very good at experiencing the local food but we do like to snack occasionally on naughty Western food!)

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