Ban Lung – “More Than Just Dust and Sweat”

We survived the bus ride from hell, which brought us to Ban Lung, a small town in the north east of Cambodia.  Our first day there, we wandered through the town just to see what we could see.  We checked out the local market, which was very similar to the markets we’ve seen in Laos – dark, dusty mazes with stall after stall of the exact same things.  And the food section smelled of rotting meat.  Par for the course.

Is it Hot Enough For Ya?!

On our walkabout in the blazing heat, we saw a few things of note.  The first is that many of the women were wearing turtlenecks.  We were dying from the heat, and they were wearing turtlenecks – sometimes with sweatshirts over top.  We know all about the women trying desperately to keep their skin light, but wearing several layers?? We were baffled.

Nice PJ’s!

Another thing we noticed were women wearing pyjamas in public.  Not one or two, but several women wearing brightly-coloured flannel pyjamas, often with cartoon characters.  I joked that “this really is a sleepy town!”  We couldn’t get any pictures because 1) we didn’t have the camera with us; and 2) you’re not supposed to take people’s pictures without asking their permission. But you can imagine…

Great Slogan

A third thing of note was a sign that said “Ban Lung – More than just dust and sweat”.  We got the sweat part (did I mention that it was blazing hot?), but it wasn’t till the next day that we would fully appreciate the dust.

Ban Lung – Day 2

Our second day in Ban Lung was the real winner.  We rented a motor bike and headed out to see a couple of amazing waterfalls and a beautiful lake.  The way there is by dusty dirt road, and one part was particularly spectacular with all the trees bent in the same direction.

This picture sucks and doesn't capture the coolness of the forest

On the way to the waterfall

The first waterfall (Kinchaan) was a magical spot, as you can see…

Kinchaan Waterfall - Pictures can't do it justice

Me posing under the falls

More posing

My Friends at the Waterfall

But what made this a truly incredible experience was playing with some little Cambodian kids in the water.  For some reason they just took to me, and they were literally hanging off of me.  They didn’t speak a word of English, and I don’t speak Khmer, but somehow we connected.

They climbed up the rock to jump off

On land I showed them a trick that my grandfather taught me as a little boy.  At first they were stumped, but I taught them how to do it.  It was really special for me to pass Gramps’s trick on, some 30 years later and halfway around the world.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of that because we have “vacation brain” and we forgot to charge the camera and it died. (I know!).

Ka Tieng Waterfall

We got back on the bike and headed to nearby Ka Tieng Waterfall.  The special thing about this waterfall is that you can walk behind it.  Fahrin and I had the place to ourselves.  We stood behind the waterfall and talked for a good 45 minutes.  A truly special place.

Behind the falls

Crater Lake

The next stop was Boeng Yeak Lom crater lake.  A 50-metre deep lake in the crater of a volcano that’s 700,000 years old.  This was a sacred place for ancient civilizations that lived here.  We swam in the clear blue water (warm, too!) from a dock we had all to ourselves.  (We have video from here, but it will take too long to upload with this crappy wifi connection.)

Yummy Dinner

We went for dinner down the street from our guesthouse, at the nicest place in town.  We sat overlooking the pool and had a delicious meal.  We both had the Khmer special dish, Amok fish (steamed in banana leaves and spiced with Khmer-style curry).  Simply delicious!  Sorry, no pixof the dinner, but here’s one of Fahrin and the adorable puppy at our guesthouse…

Not a bad way to spend the first anniversary of our engagement, as well as Navros, the Ismaili (and others’) new year.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Angi on March 24, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Beautiful, all of it! Be grateful for the sun and heat we have just been duped by mother nature who has slyly dumped a second winter upon us.

    In reference to “Nice PJs” it must be some spill over from western culture… I see it here all of the time. Mostly, teen age girls but I have seen women trying to pull it off… though I can’t say what they are trying to pull off. Are they just too lazy to get dressed or saying screw society I am gonna be comfy even if I look like a slob? Maybe they took the moccasin wearing fad a little too far? It’s hideously sad and so not cool. ~just a little pet peeve rant to amuse you.


    • I am truly, truly grateful for missing such a brutal winter. I feel grateful every single day.

      You see people in their PJ’s all the time?!?! Is this a recent phenomenon? I never saw that in Toronto. Nor anywhere else, till I got to Cambodia. Here it’s mostly women and children. Their PJ’s often look clean and crisp, as if they got out of bed and put on their “out” PJ’s.

      I don’t know what the motivation is, but I’d be interested to find out. It’s kinda ridiculous, but I don’t have an issue with it. They are comfortable… I got a few pics of people wearing them today.


  2. Awesome. More motivation to get off my butt and start travelling again. Thanks you two.

    PJs — I didn’t see that when I was in Loas! Are they using them as PJs as well? Or just found a totally new use for our night time clothes? Not that I wear, ’em but you know…



    • Thanks, but I didn’t need that visual…

      I don’t know if the pyjamas are a recent trend, since you were in these parts. The people wearing them here don’t exactly look like the trend setters – mostly middle-aged women, not striking in any other way. I don’t know if they’re dual-use clothing, but they often look clean and crisp – although sometimes they look like they just rolled out of bed.

      Glad to motivate you. It’s an easy task to tickle your travel bug, I think…


  3. Posted by mum on March 28, 2011 at 5:50 am

    Hi beta – glad you and fa are getting to enjoy beauty at the other end of the world. A chat behind the falls – sounds so romantic 🙂 Or were you discussing the pj’s and turtle necks?? Bizzare. Well keep posting cause it feels like we’re holidaying with you. Take care. Miss you both and Alam. Love mum


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