|The best way to explore Ratanakiri is by hiring a moto driver for the day. My driver from the bus station was busy my first full day in Ban Lung but he recommended a friend who indeed showed up at the guesthouse at 9:00 am. For $15 he agreed to take me wherever I wanted to go for the rest of the day.
We set out for the three waterfalls which are scattered about the surrounding countryside. Each waterfall was unique and, while they were relatively modest, they each possessed a certain charm. One was peaceful; another was particularly beautiful; and the third one was fun--serving as the swimming hole for the local kids.
In the afternoon we headed to Yak Laom Lake which is formed by the crater of a volcano. It is a popular swimming spot and picnic area with the locals and it was rather busy because of the holiday. There is a hiking trail around the lake and my driver, who spoke English quite well, actually joined me on my hike. Later we relaxed by one of the beaches, but around 3:00 the day was cut short by a heavy downpour which I luckily beat back to my guesthouse.
The second day of the 3-day New Year holiday is the most important day. It is the day that is most like our Christmas. For the first time since arriving in Cambodia I saw businesses close. People dressed up and large family groups went to the pagoda in the morning and out to dinner in the evening.
I ate at a crowded restaurant which was actually decorated with holiday lights like our restaurants at Christmas. The festive atmosphere and the sight of families sharing a holiday meal made it seem like a special day to me as well.