I’ve talked a lot about bus rides. For the most part that’s because I’ve spent countless hours on the buses. In Cambodia the buses are extremely full, to say the least. Just when you don’t think one more bag or one more person will be able to get on the bus, 20 more get on. That said, it was always a tight squeeze.
Kratie lies on the banks of the Mekong River. The travel agencies told us it was five hours away, but it was more like a nine. Although I wondered at least a dozen times when we’d arrive, there isn’t much a passenger can control… so I just kept reading my book. The roadside stops got more and more interesting the further we got from the city. Grilled spiders and other bugs were the norm. People would buy a plastic bag of them, much on them and throw the legs on the bus floor. I guess there are just some things that you have to laugh about.
We arrived in Kratie just in time to see the sunset over the Mekong. The colors were incredible.
The main “attraction” in Kratie is the Irrawaddy Dolphins. They are critically endangered and there are just 80 left today (approximately). When you see them swim, you can’t help but smile. Their melon shaped heads bob up and down in the water as they speed through the river. They made me think a little of a mermaid with the way they moved.
Seeing the dolphins was incredible, but what I liked even more was the 25-minute tuk-tuk ride that we had taken to see them. Kratie is different than every other part of Cambodia we visited. Aside from being a lot more rural, the elderly population was much larger in Kratie since the Khmer Rouge never fully occupied the area. Life was simple; children shared bikes and ran up and down the streets. Fruit was sold on the roadside. All of the homes were wood and built on stilts to avoid flooding during the rainy season. Like anywhere in the world, people living in big cities are often in a rush. In smaller towns, or more rural areas, people are often more friendly. In Kratie, this was the case. The owner of the guesthouse we stayed at and all of his friends that passed through were some of the friendliest people we met in Cambodia.
If we had more time to spend in Cambodia, I would have loved to grab a tent and explore some of the more rural areas surrounding Kratie. Like so many things, that’ll just have to wait until next time!