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Published: July 15th 2016
Kratie lies on the banks of the mighty Mekong river in the north east of Cambodia around 250km from Phnom Penh. The reason I decided to come here was to kayak with the Irrawaddy dolphins. There are only 3 rivers in which these dolphins still exist although they are still found in some coastal areas. In the stretch of the Mekong just north of Kratie the remaining population of Irrawaddy dolphins is between 70 -80 individuals. This was to be one of the highlights of the trip but as Von Moltke said " no plan survives first contact with the enemy". Bloody Prussian. Sadly he was right and I received an email from Pete, the owner of Sorya kayak adventures a couple of days back very apologetically telling me that the Mekong was now too big and dangerous to kayak. He'd given me plenty of notice so I could change my plans but my Vietnamese visa is not valid until the 17th so I figured what the he'll, Pete had offered me an alternative half day trip so I came to Kratie to do that instead. The minibus ride up wasn't too bad, if a little cramped for overstuffed westerners and
we arrived at midday. Grabbed a tuktuk to Le Tonle Guesthouse, dropped my pack and walked back to where the tuktuk had picked me up to arrange a bus ticket to Ho Chi Minh city. Despite a lot of toing and froing on the Interweb there is in fact a direct bus from Kratie to HCMC. It originates in Stung Treng about 150km north of here and stops in Kratie on the way through. The journey takes about 6 hours from Kratie. Unfortunately that bastard Von Moltke was doing weewee's in my beer again. The bloody direct bus doesn't go on Sundays. So I had a choice of a 10 hour trip going via Phnom Penh or waiting a day and losing a day in Vietnam. I'm all fired up for Vietnam now and didn't want to lose a day so I'm now the proud owner of a ticket for 10 hours of torture.
But on the upside I got a tuktuk to Kampi, a village about 15km north of Kratie this afternoon then paid $9 for a 90 minute boat ride on the Mekong. It must be about a kilometre wide, is exactly the colour of cafe au
lait and is very swift flowing, so Pete was quite right, it is not suitable for kayaking. But miracle of miracles I did get to see 10 or 12 of the Irrawaddy dolphins. What a beautiful site, although damned near impossible to photograph. So stick that in your pipe Von Moltke.
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