Irrawaddy Dolphins

Trip Start May 01, 2010
Trip End May 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
Balcony Guesthouse

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Thursday, March 10, 2011

After a painfully early start, we boarded our bus and took the long, dusty road to Kratie (pronounced "Kra-chay"). We arrived in time for lunch and settled into our hostel. Despite having the best reviews, the hostel was average; it was a nightmare to get any of the staff's attention if you needed anything and the place was a bit grotty. The location, however, was fantastic. The hostel was situated right on the river and the balcony faced west meaning it was a prime position to watch the sunset. We headed over the road and bought a beer each from a street vendor and watched the sunset, which was probably one of the best we have seen all trip. Our trip to Kratie was worth it just for that!

The next day we rented a motorbike and decided to do our own little tour. Despite having no wing mirrors, the motorbike was one of the best we had rented and the riverbank road offered some fantastic views. We rode north for some time and stopped off briefly to buy some sticky rice in bamboo for elevenses. We continued north and soon reached our destination, parked up, bought our tickets and jumped into a boat.

This area of the Mekong River is one of the few areas in the world where you can see the critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins. Allegedly there are only about 70 left in this area of the river, we missed out on the chance to see them in Laos because we weren’t travelling far enough south so we were delighted to get the opportunity to see them here. We had only been out in the boat for about 5 minutes before we made the first sighting. For the next hour we saw lots of them, sometimes alone but more often in groups of 3-5. There are not many freshwater dolphins left in the world so it was great to get so close to them.

Extremely happy, we got back on the bike and continued north. Our intention was to find a ferry which would take us and the bike over to the west bank and head back that way, unfortunately we couldn’t find anything which remotely resembled a jetty, let alone a boat. We ended up going very far north and found nothing. We asked tons of people and asked them to point out the ferry crossing on our map but it continued to elude us. In the end we gave up and headed back.

Back at the hostel we had lunch and browsed around a 2nd hand book store to exchange our books, not seeing anything we liked we headed out and decided to travel south and perhaps find a ferry terminal in that direction. After about an hour we noticed my right arm was starting to burn in the sun so we headed back once more and relaxed for the evening.

And so ended our very short, but productive, stay in Kratie. We headed to bed and prepared for the mammoth bus journey in the morning.   
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