Cambodia: Exploring Ratanakiri, home of glorious nature
January 1, 1970
by Keolydeth Hun
Well, Angkor Wat would pop up in your mind if you hear about Cambodia, but there are a lot more to expect from this developing country. Rattankiri, a province located in the northeastern edge of Cambodia and a home to the splendid green field, breathtaking forest view and glorious waterfall from the mother earth. Whoever wishes for a great hideout, away from the crowd, and reconnect with nature, this can be an option. There is no great facility like the heavy tourist destination, there is no fancy supermarket due to the limits of development, yet it allows visitors to sense the pure local vibe.
Getting there: off to Banlung, Ratanakiri
Not to mention the arrival of foreigners, a trip to this almighty place remains a dream for some locals. However, the road is now pretty safe and in a good condition, somehow the trip can be rough because it takes around 8 – 10 hours to get to the heart of the province. Sadly, crushing on the road trip is the only option; there is no shortcut or airport for a better time-saving trip. if you really wish to experience this mere beauty of the mother earth, there needs to be a trade-off and you need to accept the challenge.
Minivan or just Bus?
luckily, at the current time, you can find a few transportation companies of minivans and buses and taxi cars from the capital to their stopping point in Banlung. This minivan and bus rental proves very convenient for a group trip. the tickets price is around 9$, but for VIP minibus may cost higher depends on your budget. if you are staying at a hotel or guesthouse based in Phnom Penh you may try to ask the receptionist to get you a ticket as most of them cooperate with the transportation company. Hence, if you are a tech geek you can book your tickets through an app called Bookmebus.
Must-see Hotspots: Lets the adventure begin !
if you really keen on exploring this calm place the trip should be at least 3 days long. There is no night bus that you can sleep overnight and wake up in Ratanakiri, so you have to travel at daytime; you may leave in the early morning and probably lucky enough to catch a glimpse of sunset in Banlung. Spend your first arrival adapting to the place and observe is the best decision. The place at night time is not what we may prefer, as it is very local and remote; when the nightfall, everything seems to have no motion, so silent and only the sound of crickets and few motorbikes passed by.
when the morning comes, you know how to give a wow to what is given in front you !
Fresh sunrise and coffee farm
You probably not a morning person, I am too, but after spending a night and trying to adapt to the place, you will automatically awake from your deep sleep. you may be the luckiest one if you get a room with an access to the front veranda; get up and feel the cold breeze, have a deep breath and enjoy the orange sky rising behind the mountain silhouette. Expose yourself to the early morning sunlight until you feel the burn on your skin.
Renting a motorbike or tuk-tuk is the best for your unlimited day tour, but I would suggest tuk-tuk as it makes you feel more secure on the road. Cambodia is a hot country and once the sun rises up you will feel the burn on the skin, yet the morning is always better than the sunlight in the afternoon. make sure you check out most outdoor activities first. I recommend you to drop by the local coffee farm, though I sadly missed the chance,it received good reviews by many visitors as the coffee was freshly made and the taste of local. Due to the climate condition, only the area that Ratanakiri situated in allows the growth of Coffee plants.
Yeak Lom Lake
The next stop would be Yeak Lom lake, It is the top hotspot in the area and famous for its long fairy tale. The forestry surrounded the lake will take your breath away with its wonder and blesses. There is not beautifully made glass floor or cement, it covers with red soil , big trees and leaves. there are small cottages near the lake that you can rent or a short resting, and you can feel the nature and cold breeze. After resting, you shall take a walk around the lake or even jump into the water! there is lifevest for rent and the cold water will surely wash away your stress and headache. Take some time to explore all the edges of the places, though the place is quite dusty, but everything worth a capture and vividly stunning.
Tour around, take a short break and get ready to off the road for another experience. I decided to take the challenge with my peers and visit this waterfall called ‘Kajanh’, it was a bit hard for a big bus to get into the place but still, we had to get off and walk for around 5 mn to the waterfall, it is just beautiful and very natural, and you can also walk down the slippery rocks to get near to the water or just dive in the cold holy water. The waterfall from the top of a mountain where the rainwater was stored and flow down; however, no one gets to explain how the source of the water look like or where the water flows from.
Find a big rock under the shade, sit there and put your feet in the water, eyes lock on the flow of water falling at its fastest speed, you will feel so blessed, so relaxing and just wish life could be easier for you to be able to witness this kind of things quite often.
What you should know
Food: Say no to wild meat
What you need to be aware of is ‘ Wild meat’, Ratanakiri made up of forestry geographic so consuming wild animal for the locals is quite normal, but you are NOT THE SAME ! and I am very against this. With the illusion that wild meat cures disease and profits, locals and villagers often convince visitors to order such dishes. However, we all have to respect the act of conserving all those endangered animals. The meat can make you have an upset stomach or unforeseen reactions.
Ratanakiri is well-known for its traditional rice wine, it may be a bit strong for low alcohol tolerant people but probably okay for a usual drinker. Still, if you know that your body is not adapted well with the place or not ready for any strong things, you better back off.
To sum this up, i admit that the trip was a bit tiring, yet all the experiences were very precious and new. To plan an adventurous get away once in a long while probably the best you can give yourself. Always be generous with the challenges because what is hard to get can be very precious.