The Road to #Ratanakiri, #Cambodia, is Long But Worth It

If you want to visit a region that’s unlike anywhere else in Cambodia, visit Ratanakiri. I imagine it’s what most of Laos looks like, though I haven’t been and I don’t really know. In a way, it reminds me of a little bit of northern Thailand, but with the dust and dirt Cambodia’s known for. We chose Ratanakiri not only because it’s hilly and supposedly cold (which we confirmed) as it’s a higher elevation than the rest of the country, but also because it is home to most of the indigenous groups and ethnic minorities in the country, and it’s also one of the most vulnerable locations for deforestation and rubber plantations in the country.

Though I eventually will write about concessions and the ecological damage being committed to the country through land exploitation, I’m not going to do it here, in my vacation post! What I will describe is what happened regarding transportation. I finally got the chance to see “real Cambodian transit.” And that’s the “minibus.” You see them all the time, jam-packed with Cambodians, who are packed in, 25-30 per bus, with some on the roof or hanging onto the back, motos attached and all that too, but never would we have dreamed of actually being in these contemporary clown cars. Thing about Kratie is, not many people go though it, and thus transportation options are limited. For us, we learned the night before that we’d be packed into a minibus. We requested, politely, to have our own row because these things are notoriously over-packed, but we didn’t really get that. Here’s the minibus before we got in, probably 60% full:

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I didn’t take many pictures while crammed in the bus, but here’s one from the first rest stop. Notice the cows in the background. They were most commonly found on the road.

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The store had strange tree sculptures. Here is Stephanie “praying” (??) to one:

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When you’re in the back of the bus, and you’re Cambodian, it’s easier just to sneak out the back window.

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Fast forward a bit and you’ll see that we’re in Banlung, Ratanakiri (the capital of the province), at the Tree Top eco-lodge. The surrounding scenery is to come.

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Our bungalows featured all manner of sleepy kittens and cats and puppies. Here is one ferocious yawn:

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Strangely, Treetop also sold “Robot” water:

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At Cafe Alee, basically next door, we found a codeine-heavy “Hangover Cure” for only $1.50.

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We got the baguette pizza and burgers:

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After dinner we visited the night market (one of my favorite shots from the trip):

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No comment but this one, “no comment.”

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It wasn’t hard to identify some creepy mannequins on the dusty, quiet streets of this quaint farming town.

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We promptly passed out after our night jaunt, as we had a day of activities planned for the first of two full days in the province. And by full, I mean full. Filled with strangeness, nature, and twists and turns.

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