Cambodia Roundup

A dubious way to transport a ladder in Phnom Penh

A dubious way to transport a ladder in Phnom Penh

I spent 16 days in Cambodia and an average of $30 per day. I didn’t see too many places, just Banlung, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, and Siem Reap. The buses in southeast Asia were really wearing me down and I was concerned about my budget, so I decided to take it easy. I ended up spending more money than I had wanted to, though, mainly on the delicious western food I found near the beach.

I don’t have a burning desire to return to Cambodia. I found the people there to be a bit too aggressive and untrustworthy. It’s not that I felt unsafe there or like I’d be attacked, but rather that the people I encountered weren’t too concerned about my well-being and were always trying to rip me off. Also, the traffic was terrifying, especially when going for a bike ride.

I suppose if I do ever find myself in Cambodia again I’d like to explore more of the coast. I didn’t get to any of the islands or the smaller towns, and although the beach at Sihanoukville is beautiful, the town completely lacks culture and charm.

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A Walk to the Yeak Laom Lake

Yeak Laom lake near Banlung, Cambodia

Yeak Laom lake near Banlung, Cambodia

In Laos I got scammed on yet another bus ride, this time from Don Det to Banlung in Cambodia. Although I knew there was no direct bus to the small town, I purchased a ticket that should have allowed me to transfer from the Phnom Penh-bound bus in Stung Trung. Long story short, I was dropped off in the pouring rain at a small service station in essentially the middle of nowhere – no bus station or information office to be found. When I asked about a connecting bus to Banlung the locals just kind of laughed and told me to have some tea. Apparently I’m not the first sucker they’ve seen. I did finally manage to get a shared taxi for $5 and arrived at Banlung’s town center just before sundown and got a good night’s sleep at a guesthouse.

The next day I set off for the main attraction in Banlung: the Yeak Laom lake. It’s located just about 5km outside of town and it’s a fairly pleasant walk. It’s a volcanic crater lake and it considered sacred by the locals, and the water is very clear and is used by many for bathing and swimming. There’s a walking path that circles the lake and as you get further from the entrance, the more secluded and quiet it gets.