After the never-ending bus ride that dropped us off 17 hours later in Ratanakiri, we woke up to a bright glorious morning at Treetop Ecolodge. When you live in Phnom Penh, you become quite accustomed to the lack of green spaces in everyday life. You can also grow accustomed to a certain noise level and pace of movement. The capital town of Banlung is also known as the "Red City." With its bright red soil (that taints buildings and probably everything else), quiet streets, and green rolling hills, Banlung was a welcome contrast.
In truth, I was reluctant to make the journey to this northeastern province. It is one of the longest (maybe it is the longest) bus journeys in Cambodia. I know little about Ratanakiri- only that it sits close to the Vietnam and Laos borders, is inhabited by numerous ethnic minorities, and is a place that is increasingly attractive to the mining/extractive industry.
While I personally love overland journeys, long Cambodian bus rides on the heels of a crazy work week aren't exactly my idea of a vacation. But when else would we go? Especially since we are leaving Cambodia soon?
So, off we went. No computers. Just books, toiletries, and three days' worth of clothes.
Our first morning in Banlung, we met Anna and her friend for breakfast and loosely planned how we would spend our days: a bicycle ride to, and picnic at, the crater lake? A boat ride up the river to visit indigenous cemeteries? A Khmer New Year party thrown by a Spanish transplant?
The weekend was wide open.