My name is Prich Peul, I’m an 80 year old Bunong woman from Pou Loung village, located in Sangkat Romanea, Senmonorom town, Mondulkiri. I live with my daughter and my son-in-law and three lovely grandchildren.
I don’t know much about taboo places but I do know a little about Krang Ponh Krang Chang Mountain. The location of this mountain is at the focal
point of three villages – Pou Trou village, in Senmonorom commune, O Raing district; Pou Chhab village, in Dak Dam commune, O Raing district; and Pou Loung village, in Sangkat Romanea, Senmonorom town. It is also linked to the head of the O Te River, and its southwestern slope is connected to the head of the O Tou Ranou and Tou Changklaer rivers. It has also been said that it is at the place for smashing stones for minerals – along the national road number 76 to Dak Dam commune. In the past, this mountain was a taboo place and that may still be the case; I’m not sure. The elders always tell young people that it is a taboo place and people are not allowed to cut down the forest in that area.
Although this mountain is a taboo place, people still go there to cut vines, rattans, vegetables and black colour trees. The black colour tree is used to produce colour for thread which is weaved into clothes. For about 10-15 years, I; my family; and other villagers (a party of sometimes 6-7 people) went to that mountain to find the black color trees for colouring thread to weave into towels, scarves, shirts, hand bags and skirts. That type of tree was only abundant on that mountain. We slept on that mountain twice and there were a lot of leeches then, but I don’t know if there are still many leeches there. I don’t have enough energy to go to that mountain anymore because I am getting older. It was a very difficult time for Bunong people then, and poor people still have to go up the mountain. But now we can get everything we need if we have the money.
In the past, I heard that dangerous animals such as tigers and wild buffalos lived on the mountain, but I’ve never seen them with my own eyes. 10-15 years ago, I did see the footprints of a tiger on the way to my plantation, as well as on the way to the other villagers’ plantations nearby the Krang Ponh Krang Chang Mountain. In the windy season, packs of tigers travelled to that mountain and herds of wild buffalos also came out by the forest-river areas near the mountain. At that time, there was a big Cham Bak tree close to my plantation and I saw the wild buffalo footprints around that tree. But we stopped using our plantations for 5-6 years. Then one day, I saw the wild buffalo footprints on my way to the well and they were huge! The buffalo were not living there but they walked pass that place, and they still walk across my; Vakk monthe’s; and other people’s plantations to the Krang Ponh Krang Chang Mountain every year. My brother-in-law, called Father Hyakk, followed their footprints once, but he never caught them. The buffalo have never been afraid of people because no one dares to hunt them. One among them is very big and we believe that it is the god or spirit of the forest or mountain.
But I never did see those animals; only their footprints.