My Khmer New Year Trip in 2011
During the Khmer New Year, from April 14-17, 2011; I and my family spent time to travel from Phnom Penh to the Northeastern provinces (Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri) of Cambodia. We left Phnom Penh at 6:00 am and arrived in Kratie town at around noon time. The distance between the two cities is 336 km via the national road # 6, # 8 and # 7. The roads are all in good condition. We used the newly built bridge at Prek Ta Meak crossing the Mekong river. Then, the new national road # 8. After having lunch and a short break in Kratie we continued the trip to Stung Treng province. We had lunch at Kampi tourist resort, where visitors could take bath in the Mekong and watch the river Dolphine showing up, especially in the late afternoon time. The distance from Kratie to Stung Treng is 132 km. But the road is in very good condition and less traffic. We stayed overnight in Stung Treng town.
In the next morning we went to the Cambodian-Laos border, about 60 km from Stung Treng town. We crossed the newly build bridge over the Sekong river. The bridge was constructed by a Chinese company using the loan from China. It saves us time for crossing the river by ferry. When we reached the border, we intended to cross the border to see the Khorn water fall of Mekong, but due to the high fees charged by border polices from both sides, we decided not to go. One person is charged of 45,000 Riel (or 11.25 USD). One car is charged for 30 USD.
It means we would pay for all of us more than 200 USD, just for these fees. We made pictures over there and went via a country road to reach the Mekong river at the Laos border. The view of Mekong there was really nice. We stopped and made photos again there. After that we returned via national road # 7 and went to visit Ratanakiri province, more than 220 Km from border. From the crossroad at Oh Porng Moan to reach Ratanakiri town is 131 Km. The road is still being rehabilitated, bumpy, rocky and at some sections we could not drive fast. It took us three hours to reach town. We had lunch at Tropaing Krohorm school yards.
We reached the town at 3 pm and tried to find guesthouse for overnight stay. For an air-conditioner room it costs 25 USD, double of normal price of 12 USD. We headed afterwards to the famous Yark Loam Lake, the small volcano made lake, just to get stacked in traffic jams. The place was very crowded with people like to visit the lake. Most of the people are coming from Phnom Penh and other cities of Cambodia. Normally, the lake is visited by very few visitors. I myself was there two times in the early 2000. At that time, we were more or less alone to visit and I was able to enjoy the beautiful scenery. But this time, we were then disappointed in the sense that we could not take a bath in the lake due to huge size of visitors and the weather was also hot.
Our next destination for the next day was Mondulkiri. From Ratanakiri to Mondulkiri it is about 400 Km. Except the 131 Km from town to Oh Porng Moan the other section of the roads are in very good condition. We left Ratanakiri after having breakfast and had lunch at Snuol district, Kratie province, after travelling more than 300 km. Around 2 pm, we took the final distance (140 Km) to reach Mondulkiri town. We reached the town at 4 pm and had time spent making picture along the way. Mondulkiri is an upland province, very mountainous and has nice temperature, a bit cooler than lowland. We visited the forest sea and Phnom Dors Kramom after returning to guesthouse. The double bed room costs 30 USD, also double the normal price. But, we had no choice.
The last day, we would like to visit Bou Sra waterfall, the very famous tourist destination. From Mondulkiri to Bou Sra the distance is 30 Km, but the road there (in some places) is in poor condition. It would take us around one hour to reach it. Unfortunately, after 20 Km travelling my van had problem with one of the tires. After a failed attempt to replace it on the spot around one hour, I did need to return to Modukiri to get it fixed. After spending some time in Bou Sra visiting and making photos we returned to town and had lunch over there. At 1:15 pm we left Mondulkiri to Phnom Penh via Kampong Cham town, about 400 Km travel distance. We reached Phnom Penh, after some short breaks along the way, at 8:15pm, exactly 7 hours driving. In all the four days we were driving more than 1,600 Km across seven provinces. For me, I did know all these provinces. But, for some of my brothers and sisters, they never had a chance to visit there. That is why, I sacrificed my time, money and energy to bring them to visit that places. I think all of us were very tired after such a long trip in a short period of time. But, we were all happy by travelling in groups among our relatives in two cars, one van and one pick-up Toyota.
Some impressions of my trip:
- Many people were travelling from far distance to visit all corners of the country. It is due to full-scale peace, roads and bridges rehabilitation and better living conditions of the people.
- People are eager to explore new destinations for visiting, in addition to known locations at lowland.
- These four provinces were once “cut” from other parts of the country. Now, due to newly bult roads and bridges, there is very good connections and we become closer.
- Along with the people, the (solid) wastes are coming too due to low awareness of our people.
- What disturbed me/us the most is the scale of destruction of forest. With road and bridges and more development, more destruction is visible, especially at the costs of the environment. The trees were cut down to make land for agriculture purposes, i.e. for planting rubbers trees, cassava, fruit trees, cashew nuts tree etc.
- Some forest sections were destroyed for some influential people to get land for sale and economic land concessions. This happened in all the four provinces. The impact is visible. We can observe that in some years ago, the waterfalls are plenty and they have water year around. Now, in the dry season, there is no waterfalls anymore.
We do hope that development evolves side by side with sustainable environment protection. Let us, government agencies and other stakeholders working together to preserve this wonderful environment for our own’s and the sake of new generations.