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Faces in Places Traveling as the Uni of Life

Hammocks and Motorbikes

CAMBODIA | Friday, 1 May 2009 | Views [2246] | Comments [1]

Getting lost in rubber plantations, Ratanakiri, Cambodia.

Getting lost in rubber plantations, Ratanakiri, Cambodia.

Hello everybody! Two days ago I arrived back at Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang, Cambodia. Up here I will continue working on the DVD for Tini Tinou Festival 2009. This is also a perfect moment to reflect on the past two weeks of either motorbike or hammock action.

A couple of days after the festival I left Battambang together with Jill and Rachal and headed for Siem Riep. The girls had never been here before and wanted to spend a day in Angkor, while I treated myself with a hotel that included a swimming pool. To see things from a different height I went visiting ‘miniature Angkor’, which is a project from a local who rebuild several Angkorian Temples in miniature. During my search through town for his place I had an opportunity to look at how things had changed during the last two years when I was last here (a lot).

In the evening we teamed up to go see a Tini Tinou roaming performance at an expat restaurant in town. The Romanian and Laos artists stayed a couple of days longer to do several performances around the country to generate funding for the organization. Jill also decided to join in with some fire action. All very great to see the performers again and throughout the evening we spent a lot of time hugging. :)


Next day Rachal and I said goodbye to Jill and boarded a flight to Pakse in Southern Laos. Since the border crossing into Laos doesn’t supply visa on arrival and we didn’t want to waste time and travel to Phnom Penh for one, we decided to get to Laos the posh way and fly in. Great anyway to see the area from birds view!

In Laos not so much had changed and we decided to do a motorbike ride around the Bolaven Plateau, just like we had done in 2007.

Wowowiwa! I never could have imaged that Laos was even better than I remembered! Beautiful! And although we were here for the second time, the experience was a whole different one. To spice things up even more, we travelled during Pi Mai Lao (Laos New Year), which -just like in Thailand and Cambodia- means that for one week everybody is allowed to have one massive water fight! Children, but also adults, all run around on the streets throwing water bags at each other or just emptying their buckets onto the passing traffic. Accompanied with the water fighting is -of course- a lot of Lao Lao (sticky rice whisky) drinking. Rachal and I needed to defend ourselves and thus we tuned our moto with some water cannons to do drive by’s.

From Pakse we then drove to Tad Lo, spend two nights in this wonderful picturesque village next to a waterfall and drove further in the direction of Sekong and Attapue, finding another great place to spend the night on the way. When we arrived at this tranquil place located besides yet another perfect waterfall, there was no staff to be found since they were all partying. Within half an hour after arrival I was drunk, wet and white from the chalk powder that people frantically throw on each other. To illustrate the madness; This party was inside and although the place was filled with electronic devices like the huge karaoke set, it didn’t stop people to bring in the water hose and spray around happily. Oh Lao people and their innocence, I love them!

Next day we drove further over a beautiful dirt road through jungle filled hills and were surprised to find the waterfall where we hiked to with a bunch of locals two years ago. This time we had the opportunity to view it from above.

>> Same waterfall two years prior.

Fresh air, people with smiles and dirt roads on a motorbike; definitely a cocktail that makes me happy instantly!

We drove back though Paksong to Pakse and stayed here overnight. Next day we took the bus to Si Pan Don (the 4000 Islands) to return to Vixay and his lovely family with whom we’d celebrated Christmas in 2007 (Blog entry in Dutch). When we arrived, the man just returned from fishing and after he docked his little dugout canoe he came up to us smiling like always. He immediately remembered us and a lot of hugging and laughter later we settled ourselves for yet another perfect Don Det sunset.  

Five days later nothing had changed really, except that I had new friends and was pretty much as easy as one can get. Next day Rachal left to head back to Bangkok in tranfer for Australia. I was too relaxed to move and stayed behind. But since most others had left too and I found myself left over sitting with two 24/7 stoned Swedes who came straight out of Wayne’s World, I decided to leave the next day.

When I dud I crossed the border back into Cambodia and boarded a bus to Ratanakiri province in the far North East of the country. From many people I’d heard good stories about this region and since it’s basically inaccessible during rainy season I felt like it was now or neve.. well, not now. The stories were right and even the capital town of Ban Lung felt really laid back. Close to town is a huge 80m deep crater lake surrounded by lush green jungle, which was the perfect spot to hang out chatting and reading or cleaning myself and my cloths from the red dusty roads after a day of moto driving. I got to know R.J. from the US but living and working in Japan and Korea for the last 9 years and we teamed up for a couple of days around the province on motorbikes. Again, we visited many beautiful waterfalls which were perfect for swimming, showering and launching local kids into the air so they could do their monkey-like jumps. Cheeky little ones they are and in general I found the locals in this area really friendly ("come, come, drink with us!" or "here, have some barbecued chicken head!" erh..).

Sadly, much jungle in Ratanakiri is being cleared for plantations (mainly rubber and cashew nut). But from a positive perspective it provides produce AND a great ride! :P One day, after riding for ages onto a random path that brought us from one plantation into small towns and back into more plantations, we found ourselves driving on the airstrip from the abandoned Ratanakiri Airport; nice!

After four days I took a bus back to Phnom Penh to do shopping at the main markets. Although this drive would normally already take about 12 hours, it ended up being more then 17 since the roads where like a mud fight arena after last night’s heavy downpour.

With numb limbs I arrived at the Lake Side in Phnom Penh. Here I found out that the rumors are true and the entire lake is indeed being reclaimed to have a Korean company build its casino’s and golf courses. Oh Cambodia, continue like this and down you will go…

After two nights of big city and scarf-shopping I returned to small city Battambang and went straight to PPS. Here I arrived just in time for the long awaited evaluation meeting about Tini Tinou. After this, they had organized a party for people who were leaving back to Phnom Penh. When the sun was about to rise I crawled into bed to wake up a couple of hours later by the happy “pling plong” from the Music School... Oh, it’s good to be back!

I hope you Dutchies had a great Queensday, although somebody almost killed the celebrated one?! My home country is getting worse by the year, isn’t it? Anyway, can’t wait to see you my friends. This will probably be somewhere in July. The rainy season is definitely coming closer now and massive thunder storms and rains have become a daily event.

Love and peace, Daan

Tags: bolaven plateau, cambodia, don det, laos, pakse, ratanakiri




Hey daan! We liked your blog and decided to feature it this week in our "Popular Stories this month" so that others could enjoy it too!

Happy travels!

~World Nomads

  World Nomads May 25, 2009 2:02 PM

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