Anyone need a ride?
No wonder Khmers are able to load five people and a double bed onto a motorbike, they start practicing early.
Kim and me have talked about going for a holiday in Cambodia for ages now, and since my contract ended now we decided it would have to be now or never. So, off we went. Our first leg would be the North-East of Cambodia to see the mountains, and then back to Phnom Penh for a night, and then on down south to see the sea. First stop would be Kratie, which is a pretty boring town with 30 000 citizens, but because one can see the infamous Mekong Dolphins there we decided to stay the night. The busride up there was pretty uneventful an quite long, seven hours for 300km.
We met a rather nice chap from Austria on the bus, and the three of us decided to find a guest house together. One of Kim’s friends had been to Kratie before, and he recommended a hotel with cheap rooms to us, so when we arrived we decided to stay there. Got a nice room with TV for US$4. Across the road of the hotel there was a restaurant with a nice view of the Mekong, so lunch was taken there. A quick exploration of the town was then
Oudom Sambath Guesthouse
Our pad in Kratie, not too bad huh?
called for, which took approximately 20 min given the size of this town.
The next day was Dolphin viewing day. We booked with a motordriver from the guesthouse, and after lunch off we went. The viewing site is about 20-30 min out of town on a motorbike, and set you back US$4 (or if you are really good at bargaining US$3, but we wanted to see the mountain as well). Arriving at the site I had to pay US$2 to get in, Kim however, came for free. In the dry season one can see the dolphins from the shore. But during the rainy season the dolphins move upstream and one will have to take a boat up river. This is just the start of the rainy season, so we decided not to try our luck and to rent a boat, again I had to pay US$4.25 for a seat in the boat, while Kim paid US$1.25. Anyway, I was quite excited to see the dolphins, but knowing that these were very shy dolphins I wasn’t too sure of our chances of actually seeing one. But, they told us that if we didn’t see any dolphins, we would get our
money back. I thought that to be quite daring of them, knowing how difficult it can be to actually come close to any wild animals. But, I had hardly gotten in the boat before one dolphin surfaced about 5m from the boat. So much for getting my money back. There were dolphins everywhere, and they kept surfacing all the time. It came to a point where there were just so many of them bobbing up and down that we were wondering that maybe there were only locals swimming around and popping dolphins dummies for the entertainment of tourists. Coming back to shore after 1 hour, it was definitely worth the money. The Legend of the River Dolphin
The story goes that once upon a time, a young maiden went with offerings to the Tree God. She didn't recognize him though as her one true love, but he did recognize her. After she left he yearned for her so badly that the Father of all Gods took pity on him and transformed him into a snake so he could go and find his love. Why he just couldn’t transform him into a human in the first place
Ok, it might not be the best picture, but anyone who has tried to take pictures of dolphins knows how bloody hard it is. For some reason these dolphins refuses to stand still and pose...
is beyond me, but it makes for a better story though… Anyway, the snake went and found his true love, and now she recognized him. They got married and their family was happy and they prospered. However, a neighbor was jealous of them and decided to find a snake for his own daughter to marry. And so he did. When he came with the snake to his daughter, his daughter got very distressed and begged and pleaded with her parents not to marry the snake, but no mercy, marry she would. On their wedding night the snake ate the daughter, the parents hearing her cries took them or cries of pleasure?? The next morning the parents found the snake sleeping alone in the wedding chamber with an enormous bulge. They cut the snake open and found the daughter still alive. She was so traumatized of being eaten and run down to the river to wash herself. But, while washing, in a moment of despair, she flung herself into the river and became the first river dolphin.
After we had seen the dolphins we had decided to go and see a mountain. Now, the word mountain are used rather loosely
Pictures from Hell
Apparently, this is what is waiting for you if you have sex in a pagoda. So, don't say you haven't been warned!
here in Cambodia, and do mean everything from a speedbump to a proper mountain. This, however, was a speedbump with a few trees on top. But, up we went, and pleasantly enough, on the top we did found a nice temple and a quite good view, seeing that is was a speedbump. In lots of the pagodas here there are lots of paintings on the walls, showing scenes from famous legends or picturing what to do and not to do. Here we found a little hut full with paintings of what would happen to you if you did certain bad things when you are alive. I don’t really understand this though, since I thought that Buddhists believe in reincarnation, thus no hell. Have to ask Kim about that.
One of the stairways was guarded by the Seven-headed Snake. This mythical figure is very popular in Cambodia, and you can see it everywhere. If you ever have visited Angkor Wat you cannot have missed seeing several statues of this creature, as well as a enormous carved wall at Angkor Wat picturing The Churning of the Ocean of Milk. The legend goes that the Gods and Demons fought in vain to
extract the Nectar of Immortality from the Ocean of Milk. Eventually they turned to Lord Vishnu for help. Vishnu, using Mt. Mandara and the Seven-headed Snake as a churning stick led the gods and demons in a collaborative effort to produce the Amvrita (nectar). In addition to the nectar, many other treasures emerged, including the Apsaras (Sanskrit = from the water but commonly referred to as celestial dancers).
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