Kratie (pronounced “kraw-ches” with a silent “s”) is a province and “town” in “Northeast Cambodia” (it’s lumped into tha region, though it’s more of a central eastern province. Check out the map of the country and see for yourself. Anyway, for my last “major trip” of my time in Cambodia, I decided it would be a good region to visit. Originally I wanted to check out four provinces in five days, and while probably technically possible, I’m glad I stuck with two: Kratie and then Ratanakiri (posts on the latter coming soon). I had five days off due to more national holidays (do they ever end?). I went with friends Pinkie, Yenda, Eric, and Stephanie. It was diverse but really awesome travel group. Everybody seemed to get along and we really enjoyed our time. Anyway! We took the early bus the first day and it took quite a while to arrive (around 6 hours). But we made it. Kratie is known for its freshwater dolphins, which is really the only reason we went there. There were distant temples and an animal conservation center, and a huge island apparently delightful to visit, but we simply didn’t have enough time to do these activities, since we had to leave bright and early the next day. We did enjoy our time in this sleepy, sleepy town though. Let’s start with a picture of a puppy in Phnom Penh on the way to the bus station:
Soriya is a bus company I don’t really recommend to anyone if they can help it. But it’s one of the only major bus companies to go to the Northeast and we didn’t want to be crammed into the alternative: a minvan with 20 people. Oh, but don’t worry. That part comes later. Much to our great, great disdain, this particular trip from the city to Kratie had us sitting next to the driver, which means next to the horn, which is one of the most uncomfortable places (auditorily) to be sitting in the bus.
Eric and I in the front. Pinkie and Yenda behind us. Somewhere in the back, Stephanie.
At the rest stop we encountered the largest bags of banana chips of all time:
As is typical, we were also waiting for the bus to get back after one of its tires went flat.
Singsung = Samsung? DH = HD? Below: a dog is not only riding on the truck, but is tied on. Animal cruelty?
Our guest house in Kratie, which was pretty fantastic:
Some kind of swan folding:
On the way to the dolphins:
Even the karaoke is themed after the local water creatures:
Though there are alternatives, the most popular (for Cambodians and foreigners) spot to see the dolphins i the Kampi Dolphin Viewing Site. It’s pretty run-down and bare-bones, but at least it’s not oppressive to tourists like Siem Reap.
Everything here feels like it was “developed” fifteen years ago.
The ominous ticket booth:
You’re not going to see any of the dolphins here, because they aren’t the type to show themselves near you. We would see them every couple of minutes but they would be 100 meters or so away.
Regardless of the dolphin-viewing, it was a nice sunny day to be on the Mekong, and it wasn’t too hot or cold when in the shade.
Our boat pilot was pretty badass too:
Back into town, we got a slight taste of the old French colonial. But whether it was due to the holiday, or just the nature of the place, it was really quite empty.
Mandatory epic river pictures:
Our sunset was spent on the ultra-cheap the balcony of the “Bal Cony Restaurant.”
And that’s that! The first of five days with a group of fun travelers. What was in store for the rest of the days? Ratanakiri, land of . . . dust and contradictions.