Volume 2 No.6

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Legend of Lake YEAH LAOM
Source : khmer Tales, Volume 6, Buddhism Institute, ministry of Cults and Religion. ( June, 2002 Volume 2 No.6 )

Yeakh Laom in Khmer literally means surrounded by giants. In the Khmer language, Yeakh means giant(s) and Laom means to surround. Yeakh Laom Lake is located northeast of Cambodia in the district of Banlung in Ratanak Kiri province. About 4 kilometers from town, the center of the Yeakh Laom Lake is approximately 80 meters in depth; its surface looks somewhat like a frying pan surrounded by mountains.
This is due to its near perfect circular shape. Despite the legends, researchers believe that the lake was born out of a volcano many centuries ago. Whatever the case may be, the lake remains one of the most interesting places to visit in the province of Ratanak Kiri. The name Yeakh Laom has made many people wonder what might have truly happened before that such a beautiful place should be named so. There are a few legends, but the following are what most people would tell to their grandchildren when recounting one of the many legends. A long time ago, there was a giant king who was very powerful and feared by his subjects. He had a daughter whose beauty captivated everyone from far and near. The princess's hair exuded a certain inexplicable fragrance that attracted many suitors to flock to the vicinity. Before retiring in the evenings, the princess had a habit of brushing her hair at her window and many people would crowd just to enjoy her scent.

The giant king named her Neang Sork Kro Oub (Lady with fragrant hair). One day, a dynamic young man from a distant town arrived at the city and was mystified by her fragrance. In the breeze that blew from the direction of the palace, the young man caught the fragrance and was enchanted. He rushed to woo the giant's daughter fearlessly. The princess accepted his advances and they fell in love. They feared the giant king knowing for sure that he would not permit them to marry since the man was only a commoner, the couple decided to elope into the thick forest.

When the giant king knew that his daughter had fled the palace with a man, he was very angry and immediately mobilized his forces to hunt down the couple in the forest. The troops arrived at forest but could not find anyone there. Adamant to seek out the couple, the giant king ordered his giants to surround the forest and systematically moved inward pulling out all the trees as they closed in. When they were still unable to find the couple, the king ordered for them to dig into the ground as well. The giant troops kept digging and digging but were unable to find the couple all the same. Soon after they had retreated, rain fell and filled the place where they dug with water and the place became what it is until today, the Yeakh Laom Lake. Another legend has it that the couple were so terrified by the surrounding troop of giants and realizing that there was no way for them to escape, they both knelt to pray for the gods of the territory for help. The begged to disappear into the ground and the grounds opened from underneath them, taking the couple to obscurity. Then the heavens roared and rain fell and the place became Lake Yeakh Laom ever since.