18.08.2009 - 21.08.2009 35 °C
My plan was to travel up the Mekong by one of these small cargo boats one can see in every Viet-Nam movie. So I arrived in Kompong Cham and asked around for boats that would be headed upstream. But here again people told me that since the concrete road has been built, all transport has shifted to the street and there are no more boats on the Mekong. What a pity!
Here's a view of the mighty Mekong in Kompong Cham:
Since there were no boats going north I took the bus to Stung Treng, which is close to the border with Laos. The buses here stop at regular intervals. On one of those stops we were approached by kids selling fruits. For some reason they also had pet tarantulas with them. These animals are pretty fun:
What I didn't know was that the bus didn't go all the way to Stung Treng. It stops at a fork in the road and passengers to Stung Treng are supposed to get out there. Since I lacked this crucial piece of information I went all the way (since we left the side of the Mekong it was all dirt track again) to Ban Lung in Ratanakiri Province in North-Eastern Cambodia. Fair enough since I didn't pay the fare to come here, so I stayed a couple of days. This area of Cambodia is very remote and very beautiful. There are quite a few lakes and there's rain forest everywhere:
A street in Ban Lung.
There's a small lake right in Ban Lung. People come to the lakeside in the evening to have dinner.
One of the locals with his water-buffalos (or whatever these things are, they taste like beef).
This man is making axes. He was polishing the handle with pieces of broken glass. Ingenious!
The Boeng Yeak Laom lake. It's a kind of crater, probably made by meteorite impact (although some people say it's the remains of an old volcano). There are several lakes like this around here. I don't know where the water comes from, but it's very clear and bathing there is a real joy in the Cambodian heat. I decided to mimic the locals and went into the water with all my clothes. That was what I wanted to do anyway because my clothes were so dirty.
I stayed in Ban Lung for two days and then took a minibus to Stung Treng. From there some locals took me to the border with Laos:
The border between Cambodia and Laos is not an official crossing. And it shows:
This must be the most laid back border post I have had the pleasure of crossing. On the Cambodian side they asked for one dollar fee, but forgot to collect it.
On the Laos side they asked for a 2 dollar baksheesh with a beaming smile. I couldn't help laughing with them and gave them a one dollar bribe.