The road from Ban Lung to Kratie
Ban Lung, Cambodia
The road from Ban Lung to Kratie Reviews
Taking the Highway to Hell Oct 26, 2005
Should you be travelling to Ban Lung in the Ratanakiri Province of Cambodia and planning your way back over the Ban Lung - Kratie road please keep the following in mind. Roads in Cambodia can be very bad and the ones in Ratanakiri are probably among the worst. Especially in during and shortly after the monsoon season it can be nearly impossible to travel these roads. If you travel this road anyway, you're in for an adventure, but potentially also a very exhausting and long day that will leave you covered in red-brown mud.
In the last week of October 2005 our group travelled across this road and although one of the guides had recommended using four wheel drives we did so by two busses. Below you'll find a part of my travel journey dealing with this trip of 250 km journey in 14 hours (and 11 hours for the first 120 km).
Today we got up at four in the morning with a long day of travelling ahead of us. The journey ahead would take us towards Stung Treng but would then take the junction towards Kratie. This was a bit of a deviation from the original program, which was supposed to take us to Stung Treng and with boats to Kratie the next morning. However, because the boats seemingly were no longer operating and based on the experience with the previous Cambodia trip by Djoser it seemed more sensible to head for Kratie straight away. This would result in a long day of travelling though. Reports from the previous group had told us that they had taken 18 hours for the 250 km trip. Then again, they were travelling in the rain season and their busses got stuck countless times. Anyway, we were prepared for the worst.
It all started quite well, we rolled out of Ban Lung in the dark at 5 and by the time the sun rose at 6 we hadn't had any real problems yet. There was one spot where there were deep muddy trenches in the road but we conquered these easily.
Since the trip had gone quite well so far and since the guide told us that the worst was behind us we were all in a state of euphoria, thinking we'd be in Kratie in 4 or 5 hours. Well, not quite because soon the first problems started. Like yesterday, the denser parts of the jungle contained huge holes filled with mud. But these boys made yesterday's holes look like golf holes. It didn't take long before we were stuck in the brown-red mud with one of the busses. What followed was a long day of getting stuck, getting out of the buss, gathering wood, putting it in front of the wheels, pushing the busses out of trenches, you name it. To be honest, it's quite fun the first couple of times, but it starts getting slightly annoying after five times.
Nevertheless, we shouldn't complain to much because on our way we passed two trucks loaded with heavy cargo that, side by side, blocking the complete road, had been stuck there for 3 days (!) already. At this specific (seemingly notorious) spot there was a secondary road going around the muddy trenches. So after the drivers had cut down some trees that were in the way we were on our way again. At another spot we had to fill up the holes with bricks which had fallen off a truck, while water buffalo's watched us.
After eleven hours we finally reached the junction to Kratie. At that point we had only driven 120 kilometres. The same distance to Kratie would be crossed in another three hours while the sun was going down. Road #7 was supposed to be one of the countries 'highways' but was actually just another dusty road, just wider and harder than the ones we had been crossing so far. Other vehicles were rare on this road, but small hordes of cows wandering on the highway were all the more common. If you could see them, that is, because most of the time all we could see was the huge cloud of dust of the other buss driving in front of us.
Just before the sun went down the highway ended and there was a detour to a road that passed several villages towards Kratie. Suddenly we saw the wide Mekong river on our right, quite an amazing sight in the sunset. At seven we finally arrived in Kratie. A 250 km journey in 14 hours and everybody was knackered.
Part of the Cambodia 2005 travel blog
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