Day 56, 57, 58 Banlung, Ratanakiri Province

Trip Start Oct 02, 2012
Trip End Mar 13, 2013

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Flag of Cambodia  , Ratanakiri Province,
Monday, November 26, 2012


pop 17,000

Day 56 November 26, Monday: Getting to Ban Lung, Ratanakiri

waited at our hotel for a tuk-tuk to take us to the bus station for
the 8 o'clock bus. At 7:55 we start wondering what's going on. We
were used to getting picked up 40 minutes sometimes one hour before
the bus left the station. We were told to wait, so we did.

little bit later, a van stops and we were told to get on. Our
backpacks were stacked in the back and as we get on, we see that
hundreds of cans take up all the leg space in the van which means
there was absolutely no room for our legs and we had the spend to
whole 6 hour journey with our knees up. As usual the bus took in way
more people than it was meant to and this time we were 23, plus two
motorbikes tied up at the back of the van.

the van there was a French couple and a Swedish guy so it was nice to
chat with other foreigners.

we got to Banlung, we were dropped off outside of the center at a
hotel (who probably paid a commission to the driver to have us dropped
off there. Of course we don't like to be manipulated like that so we
got off the van and left. We realized later on that all the
information the hotel people gave us was a lie. We teamed up with the
other foreigners and got on a tuk-tuk that a little information
center arranged for us. We paid $3 all together to be taken to the
lake (1km away) and check a few hotels.

stayed at the fourth one because it has a nice garden and a great
view of the lake (the other had no view and had construction going
on). We we told the next few days were gonna be busy because of a
water festival or something so we had to negotiate to pay the normal
rate. We have two comfortable beds and a private bathroom.

Day 57 November 27, Tuesday: Scooter to 3 waterfalls and crater lake

we rented a scooter for $5 and went to the 3 waterfalls and crater
lake that are around Ban Lung. The scooter was clearly very old and
the ignition didn't work properly. After we figured out how to turn
the key properly for the ignition to start we were on our way to the
first waterfall.

road to the first waterfall was very bad. Ratanakiri is known for being very dusty so the roads were covered in
dust and difficult to drive on. It felt like driving on sand because
the ground was shifting under the tire. In addition to the dust the
road was full of pot holes and was very uneven.

Both of our skin and clothes
were covered in red dirt after our drive to the first waterfall.

Chaa Ong was the first waterfall
and it was the biggest and most spectacular. We walked behind the
waterfall and then climbed down to its base. We seemed to be the only
people who had driven there ourselves. There was a French family that
had taken a care and other foreigners were driven there by tuk-tuk or
motorbike taxi.

The next 2 waterfalls (Ka Tieng,
and Kinchaan) were OK and not really the way they were described to
us. The water at Kinchaan was supposed to be crystal clear and
possible to swim in, but the water was brown and not very nice. We
left the final waterfall and crossed Ban Lung on our way to the
crater lake.

The crater lake, called Boeng
Yeak Lom, is believed to have been formed by a meteor strike because
the circle is so perfect. The indigenous minority people in the area
have long considered Yeak Lom a sacred place and their legends talk
of mysterious creatures that inhabit the waters of the lake. The
local Tompuon minority has a 25-year lease to manage the lake through
2021, and proceeds from the entry fee go towards improving life in the
nearby villages. However, developers, backed by local politicians,
are actively trying to have the lease anulled to build hotels and a
road around the lake, and a casino on a sacred mountain near the

When we went to the lake it was
crowded with local people who were swimming and having a barbecue. It
was nice to see local people enjoying the nature and picnicking by
the lake. It did become awkward when Julia wanted to go for a swim
(Chris was still getting over his ear infection) because local people
and monks were standing around the pier staring at us. Once the
number of people began to dwindle it was nice to enjoy the water and
the sunshine.

After the lake we came back to
our hotel as the sun was setting. We decided to go back out and eat
at a restaurant that was recommended in our guidebook. However, the
lights on our motorbike didn't work. When we told the people at the
hotel that our lights were broken they had no solution for us. They
called the shop that they rent motorbikes from and the owner said
that he only rents the motorbikes during the day, which was just an
attempt to make up a condition that didn't exist before because he
rented us a broken bike.

We told them that our friends (a
French couple that we met) had rented a motorbike at the same time as
us and that the lights on their motorbike worked (they were at the
restaurant waiting for us). They had no response for that, and the
owner talked to Chris on the phone and kept trying to lie and cover
for himself. We went to bed after telling them that we wouldn't pay
full price for the bike.

Day 58 November 28, Wednesday: Changing hotels, scooter argument

owner of the scooter rental shop came to the hotel this morning and
got in an argument with Chris about paying for the scooters. He
continued the same story as before, trying not to take responsibility
for renting us a bike that was broken. He told us he has 30 bikes and
he can't possibly check them all. About not paying, he said that when
you order food at a restaurant and there is a fly in your food you
can't send the food back! Well it's the same for the scooter. We
were planning on paying $3 since we did use the bike for part fo the
day. In the end that's what we did. We were pretty short on small
bill and the $1 bank note that Chris gave him had a one millimeter
slip on it, the owner was angry and wouldn't ask the hotel for change
so he ripped it into pieces in front of Chris and angrily returned to
his house.

though the day before we asked our hotel if they had any motorbike
rental service and they said yes, they didn't want to get involved in
any of this and said it wasn't their motorbike. It was really hard to
accept that way of thinking and that event left us frustrated for a

bike owner make a few threats like calling the police and told Chris
he would remember his face which we did not take seriously but that
man was clearly... so we didn't want to take any chances and have
trouble crossing the border so we decided to change hotels.

new hotel was an amazing restored French house. The upstairs was
entirely wooden and there was a large balcony right outside our
window. The owner is a foreigner who lives there with his father. We
dealt with the father and he was a great help: he explained
everything veyr clearly and we were left with no questions about the
hotel (in contrast to the local way of doing things).

hung around the hotel for the rest of the day. Julia took a tuk-tuk
back to our old hotel to get our bags and say goodbye to the french
couple. Chris walked into town to buy a few things. We bought our
tickets to Don Det, Laos, and the next day we will enter Laos and be
finished with Cambodia.

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