Muddy Trails and Dolphin Tails
Trip Start Jul 16, 2012
95Trip End Ongoing
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So the journey started with a long hour stuck in the traffic around the city, so it took a good hour to reach the open road just slowly moving through the city. You would have thought that this would be a nice part of the journey, this is where the nightmare began. The woman sat directly across from us asked the ticket collector for some plastic bags and just 10 minutes into a 7 hour journey she started to throw up
Usually we are super organised and plan where to stay and usually book before we arrived but Kratie didn’t have many online options so we decided to go with the proper traveller solution of finding somewhere when we arrived
The guesthouse was basic but perfect, hot water, air con and even a TV for $8 a night (£5), the one problem we faced was that there was no handle to turn on the hot water to the shower so we acquired a wrench from reception, problem solved, for £5 a night you really can’t be fussy, especially when they are so kind as to provide instructions as to how to open the curtains. I think that the reason for these instructions was that on the other side was a brick wall so you may well be confused as to whether they are in fact open or not!
So time for a day trip. Across the Mekong River is the little island of Koh Trong, this is meant to be a great place for a day trip to get a bike and cycle around. So we headed over to the harbour to catch the boat and found nothing that looked like it was for tourists to hop across the water. Eventually someone took pity on us being stood around looking gormless and pointed us towards a little wooded boat that had a few people sat it in, we joined them and before long we were on our way
We looked at the selection of bikes that were ready to be rented on Koh Trong and they were all 3 inches thick in mud making neither of us fancy a cycle ride. Tim using his best negotiating skills managed to convince the bike man to rent us his moped for $5, deal. So we set off, it all started well, we followed the path which very quickly became a wet boggy mess but we powered through and were enjoying the view. About half way around the island suddenly the path got boggier and boggier and boggier. I was spending more time walking behind Tim than on the moped and my feet were a big muddy mess. We knew that we were nearly back to where we started but the last 20 minutes of the journey were hysterical with Tim stuck in the mud on the moped, I gave up on my flip flops and opted to go barefoot. We eventually made it back to the start and handed back one very muddy moped. Unbelievably the man that loaned it to us gave us a free foot wash before we set off back on the ferry.
The main reason that we went to Kratie was to see the Mekong River Dolphins (Irrawaddy Dolphins), which actually don’t live in Kratie, but live in Kampi about 30 minutes up the river. So we hired a Tuk-Tuk driver and set off to see the dolphins
After a brief stop at a roadside stall for some tasty fried potato and banana snacks, next up we headed to the Mekong Turtle Conservation Centre the home to another critically endangered animal, the Cantor Soft Shell Turtle. I personally had never heard of these turtles before I started researching what to see in Cambodia and when I saw pictures I had to go and see these turtles for myself. The centre is in the 100 pillar pagoda temple and is looked after by the monks that live there. The Cantor Soft Shell Turtle is the largest fresh water turtle and the centre is a community led project whereby hatchlings are reared at the centre for 10 months before being released into the wild
Kratie and its wildlife certainly did not disappoint and even after the hellish bus journey we were still glad that we went there. I was even spoiled by a restaurant in Kratie that had a rather adorable family of kittens that sat with me and ate my dinner every night.
The one oddity in Kratie was that every other building was a clinic, opposite the restaurant that we had dinner at every night were people sat in the street in their pyjamas on drips. Every other moped that went past had someone on the back with a drip bag supported on a piece of bamboo…. I think it is time to get out of this town, we definitely don’t want what’s going round!
It was time for our final bus journey in Cambodia, the end of a real adventure. Cambodia really is a wonderful country with so much to see and do and we had a truly fantastic time there
Thankfully our final bus journey was quite dull, it was pretty much empty and quiet and uneventful. The best part of the journey was one of the rest stops outside Phnom Penh was in Skuon, also known as Spiderville! This town is renowned for its delicacy of fried tarantula. This tradition which is thought to have been a necessity from the Khmer Rouge days is now a delicacy. One which Tim and I decided not to sample, but it was pretty cool to see!
Farewell Cambodia, you have been amazing… next stop Malaysia!