Kratie, Cambodia: Mekong River Dolphins
From Kampong Cham we headed to Kratie (4 hrs, $5) on a bouncy, speedy bus that was driven by a man with no fear. We were dropped off right on the Mekong River and were immediately approached by a guy who wanted us to stay at his guesthouse. Not having any better options, we agreed and checked into Silver Dolphin Guesthouse ($12 with AC and TV). It was basic but had everything we needed (although Sara’s spider count reached dangerous levels). One bonus was that there’s a school next door that we could see right into from our window. It was fun to watch the little Cambodian children working away in a classroom. Don’t bother with the guesthouse restaurant though.
Lot long ago, Kratie’s market was burnt to the ground, leaving an abundance of vendors with no place to sell. They took this problem to the streets, literally. While market is being rebuilt, the vendors line the main, and some side, roads. Although it’s probably not ideal for them, we enjoyed having all the booths to peruse as we walked along the street.The next day we armed ourselves with a “to do” list and mounted a scooter that we rented from the guesthouse ($7.50/day). Before heading to Laos the next day, we needed to find a bank, get passport photos done, and buy a bus ticket. These turned out to be relatively easy tasks and it wasn’t long before we were heading north on the National Highway 7 to Kampi — home to the rare Irrawaddy dolphin. Before reaching Kampi, we stopped at Phnom Sambok, where we saw a small temple with horrific paintings, and many cottages where monks, clergymen, and nuns live.
Back on the road, we putted our way through some small villages until we arrived in Kampi (15km from Kratie). We bought our ticket ($9) and were rushed onto a boat.Maybe 4 minutes into our journey, the loud engine noise suddenly stopped. Just as we went to turn around to see what the problem was, a blowing sound came from the water. Twenty feet from us, a shiny, grey figure sprayed a mist into the air. Dolphins! We spent the next hour sitting quietly, spinning our heads at the sound of exhales.
The Irrawaddy River Dolphins
Lia suhn hao-y, Cambodia. We are off to the 4000 islands of Laos.