Searching for the place where we are going to work this month, we’ve seen that there is a cultural centre near a lake a few kilometres away from Banlung, so we’ve riden our bicycles and upslope, downslope, we were there. The cultural centre is not the one where we will be working, but we learn that it is in one of the streets we have already been to and that its name in Khmer language is monti wapatoa, something that will be very useful in the future. As we were already there, we decide to enjoy one of the touristic amusements in Ratanakiri, `the crater lake, Yeak Laom. It is a volcanic lake with more than 700.000 years that has dealt to turn the zone into a protected area, which is a really wise decision considering the careless littering organization in this country. After traveling across Cambodia for a while, the first thing that caught our attention in the lake was that it was… clean!
The environment is beautiful. Our visit happened to meet one from some monks who enjoyed both jumping from the dock and shooting photos of every moving object and subject, they themselves and us included.
The lake receives a lot of tourism, mainly local, and visitors just love taking family portraits, if any of the children is disguised with a traditional indigene costume, much better. There is a whole business around the indigene world. A lot of craft stands, costumes and some big mock-ups representing the traditional buildings of the Yeak Loam community set the resting area of the lake. To do oneself up, once disguised, they have hanged lots of mirrors and combs from the trees, so anyone can smarten up and have a prephoto moment, everything very well prepared.
This lake and the surrounding lands are considered sacred by the minorities of this region and there are several stories about it. The tourists who visited the lake at the same time than we did were very interested in knowing us and many came to talk to us in French and English, but they were not so interested in telling us about their lives and even less in telling any stories about the lake.
Without any doubts, the children were the ones who most enjoyed the trip; they didn’t stop playing in the water, passing on the willingness to jump into the lake to everyone. Next time we’ll come ready for a dip.