We added it up. Since summer this year, our family has slept in over 40 different beds each!! We have been in 3 countries and will add France to that list by next week. Nomadic living has taken us off the path and to many hidden jewels. When we travel, we stop momentarily where the tourists go but always seem to steer off that path usually because its cheaper, more intimate with nationals, quieter, and it feels more like real life.
Last summer, we visited Ratanakiri to delve into a corner of the earth few get to travel. Twelve different languages within 50 miles of each other! There is no other place like Ratanakiri Cambodia. Closed to the world, except those willing to take a 2 day moto adventure through mud, until 2 years ago, many of these tribal areas remain untouched from outside influence. We traveled 10 hours from capital Phnom Penh to arrive in this town and was surprised to find 3 great experiences including a volcano lake, a luxurious hotel with charm and excellent food, and a canoe ride to visit the villages whose language no one speaks except 200-500 people in the entire world.
Terres Rouges Lodge in Ratanakiri
Travel tip: We often book a nice hotel such as this on the second day of our trip. We show up early and check out late. Before and after, we stay at a hostel or backpackers place in order to save money.
Lake Yeak Laom
Located approximately 3 mi (4.8 km) from the provincial capital, Banlung, the beautiful lake occupies a 4,000-year-old volcanic crater. Due to the lake’s tremendous depth (157 ft or 48 m), its water is exceptionally clean and clear. The lake is almost perfectly round and measures 0.45 mi (0.72 km) in diameter. Large trees and rich, lush rain forest, the home of many exotic birds and parrots, surround the lake. The water has a mysterious viscous feel yet clear as glass. An unusual sight and feel with mysteries lying on the bottom such as unexploded bombs from Vietnam War and bodies of those who thought they could swim.
Tonle San River Ride
Driving an hour out of Ratanakiri town, we approached the shack, trash lined edge of the Tonle San river to arrange a canoe. Waiting another hour, a man came running up ready to load. We road the canoe down the river with our guide who is Chinese but lives in a village with about 200 other Chinese families who left China over 50 years ago.
The sun was intense on our backs as it was midday with no shade on this 2 hour boat ride. But, all of us were enthralled as we looked out to find children and adults on the edge of the river scantly dressed and bathing or washing clothes. He explained that each of these people had their own language. They were called the Khmer Loeu, Tampuan, Brou and others depending if you asked an outsider or Khmer. Not much is known about many of them but a few have learned enough Khmer to interact with the outside world. We stopped and visited the Jarai village of about 200 people. No-one knows the history of how they got to this land but they have been there since they can remember. Ancestors knew how to live on the forest alone but now they are employed by outside groups to cut down precious timber by the acres. We watched as they bathed without clothing unashamed as a community in the river.
Recently, we reflected on this trip and other unusual adventures, over a coffee with friends when asked “what have you learned from living a nomadic life?” Here are some unique lessons that came from this conversation:
Every life is unusual and unique. Yours is too. Share what is unusual about your life and what you have learned from that?