Ban Lung, Rattanakiri Province

Ban Lung Travel Blog

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Passing elephant

So our little group got together for breakfast this morning and negotiated a $13 motorcycle day tour with the crazy guys from yesterday (employed by the guest house). Martin pointed out it was Easter Monday so we stopped first at the town market to pick up face masks (to avert choking on orange dust), fruit, and chocolate and candy treats!


Our first stop was at the Ka Tieng waterfall, a beautiful flow into a round bowl of a lake with roots on the far side that are strong enough to swing on. The waterfall itself was like a power shower massage, and though I didn't try any Tarzan moves, I enjoyed watching the others slide down the roots to some pretty undignified finishes owing to slippery hands.

Mai at the Kachanh Waterfall
The Japanese guide made fools of them all with his 'Perfect 10 Swing'n'Splash'....


On the way back we stopped at some cashew trees and the guides showed us how the nuts are harvested from the fruit. The fruit is edible and tastes sort of sweet and dry in the same way cranberries are, and having tried them now, the smell of fermenting fruit became obvious to me as we passed other orchards. More usually however, they are swept to the base of the tree to decompose back into the earth. The cashew fruits may be yellow or red but are the same. The nuts are roasted and provide the second biggest export crop for Cambodia. The first is rubber, and the trees made up the majority of the forest we zipped through.

Me and Mr Thy, motorcycle guide round Ban Lung
It is a valuable crop and used for a huge quantity of products in Cambodia and globally.


Then onto Kachanh waterfall which also was beautiful though was sadly being littered by some sullen teenage boys picnicing by the stream and throwing their empty beer cans into it. They didn't appreciate our attempts to tell them off by way of a translator, and grumpily stomped off to the water's edge to fish and then to climb in the waterfall itself. We didn't swim here, but I got wet in the Chaung waterfall which falls directly onto a flat plateau of rock that you can clamber to. There were hundreds of little sachets of shampoo littered around, remains of the obvious use by the locals. The guides themselves were upset by the litter in the country, and we tried to impress on them the importance of keeping their country clean, though they knew it.

Painting inside the Reclining Buddha shrine
Afterall, Vietnam is fast getting a reputation for being the ugliest country on the circuit, and that is mostly due to the pollution and litter....


We then took a trip up to a hill above the town where a shrine of a Reclining Buddha overlooks the local landscape. Buddha is portrayed in many poses and the reclining position is the moment of Nirvana. I was more fascinated by the flaky older-looking artwork painted in the shrine roof..


By now we were covered in the orange dust that had stuck to our wet clothes, so we headed to Yeak Loam Crater Lake for another swim.

Our Easter Party! Lake side hotel
The Crater Lake is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, so there are food stalls set up around the lake and many families picnicing. We bought some papaya salad, cured deer meat, baguettes, sticky rice and some rice wine made by the 'minority' people and found a little spot further round the lake to have a picnic. Martin and I went ahead first to hide our easter treats and after we'd eaten our fill we challenged the rest of the group to have an Easter Treat Hunt. It took them ages to find all 20 items; pineapple donuts, bbq chipsticks, oreo cookies, candy sweets, butterscotch, marshmallow chocolate pies, beer and satsumas (or the local equivalent). We then gorged ourselves on sweets and cakes, handing out some to passing children (with the permission of their parents), and slurping the magic-replenishing minority rice wine. The jar looks like it contains sawdust; you add water (bottled of course) and the wine tastes like plum-flavoured sake. When the liquid runs low you can add more water, and so on and so on until it runs tasteless. It's delicious stuff! After our late lunch we had a dip in the warm lake as the sun set and courted the attention of seemingly every Cambodian round the lake who seemed fascinated by our antics. We had dressed conservatively all day, all wearing shorts and t-shirts in the water instead of bathing suits, and drip-drying on the bikes, but I guess our shouts and laughs attracted their attention and they watched us with interest and amusement, though it wasn't threatening or uncomfortable.


Back at the guest house we were delighted to discover our kind hotel host had arranged an Easter party in our honour and at 8pm we arrived clean and dry to a group table decorated with coconuts and orchids, and foliage stuck to the backs of our now-throne-like chairs. I enjoyed a dinner of LokLak, a national speciality (essentially stir-fried beef in oyster sauce), and tried some of Martin's delicious stir-fried Morning Glory. Our motorcycle drivers (Mr Thy (also known as Mr Longhair), Perom, 'Jamie', Japanese bloke, Vietnamese bloke and Mr Siphali himself) were also all invited to the party, and though we ate seperately, as the evening warmed up and the stereo pumped hip hop and western music (apparently snaffled from a German guest and now highly favoured by this particular group of Cambodians), before long they had dragged us up to dance. It was a very funny night as the Cambodian boys all had a different way of dancing, mostly from western TV so they entertained us with combinations of break-dancing, Elizabethan twirling, dance club cyber dancing, pretend strip gyrating round chairs, even gyrating round each other in jest! We laughed at them A LOT! They also taught Maya some traditional Cambodian dancing (a bit like Indian dancing, and similar for boys and girls alike) and she returned the favour by trying to teach them how to dance one of her Greek circular dances, which was successful in varied measures....! By the end of the night everyone was tired from dancing, even Mr Siphali's Mum (!) and we finally turned in, exhausted but happy at midnight.

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Passing elephant
Passing elephant
Mai at the Kachanh Waterfall
Mai at the Kachanh Waterfall
Me and Mr Thy, motorcycle guide ro…
Me and Mr Thy, motorcycle guide r…
Painting inside the Reclining Budd…
Painting inside the Reclining Bud…
Our Easter Party! Lake side hotel
Our Easter Party! Lake side hotel
Ban Lung Hotels & Accommodations review
Lake View Ranch, Ban Lung
Such a wonderful guesthouse – go and stay with Mr Siphali, he will look after you! When we stayed he had only just built his two guestrooms on stilt… read entire review
Ban Lung
photo by: Deats