Bunong Story Telling: History of Tou Rapa (Head of O Chba River)

My naIMG_7140me is Prich Peul, I am an 80-year-old Bunong woman from Pou Loung village, in Romanea commune, Senmonorom town, Mondulkiri. I live with my daughter and my son in law and three lovely grandchildren.

Tou Rapa is located in Pou Loung village, in Romanea commune, along the national road number 76, around 10 km from the Buffalo roundabout of Senmonrom town, Mondulkiri province. Tou Rapa has been a taboo place for long time because it is a great source of water. Bunong people believe that it is place of water spirits. In the past time, there was only one man who lived in this area; called Doem. Later, other people, including myself, moved here too. People didn’t use water from Tou Rata, we took water from the O Te river at that time. Since this village was formed and a well was dug at the site of Tou Rata, this place has been become a place where people celebrate ceremonies and pray to spirits.

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After we were liberated from Pol Pot’s regime, the villagers didn’t have access to water, so we dug a well at this source of water (Tou Rapa). On the day that the well was being dug at Tou Rapa, elders in the village organized a ceremony asking for happiness for the villagers from the spirit of water. They used a pig, a jar of wine, bananas and cake as offerings for this ceremony. Years later after the well was dug, there was much muddy ground around the well and less water in it so it was proposed that a concrete floor be built. On that day, the elders organized another ceremony for that well by using a pig and a jar of wine. In total, we organized two ceremonies at that well.

Water in the well is pretty cold, I like it. The water at Tou Rapa is sourced from Yok Radang Mountain. This mountain is also a taboo place. So we have to celebrate ceremonies and pray for happiness from the spirit of water and of the mountain. In the past time, I didn’t know this mountain was tabooed, but after the village was formed, people started celebrating ceremonies on this mountain immediately.

In the past time, I could tell stories of the City dweller Man, Snake Man, Wild Chicken Man and other stories but I have forgotten all these stories because my memory is not as good anymore. When I was young I enjoyed listening to storytelling. I had to have good memory if I wanted to tell stories because each story is very long. For example, I will start telling you a story after dinner time (from 7pm) and it will not be finished until 9 or 10pm.

Click here to see our Eng-Khmer story telling poster

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