I woke up, went upstairs & looked out over the balcony from our hostel. The road outside was full of people in light blue polo necks waving flags & driving any vehicles they had, clad in the colours of the ruling party of Cambodia. With less than a month until the election, it was the time to kick off political rallies which would spend the rest of the month travelling around the country. There were hundreds of people circling town for the cause over the course of about an hour – a scale neither of us had really expected when we learned of the upcoming election the day before.
With the morning entertainment out of the way, we had a chat with the owner of the hostel & sorted ourselves out a trip to see the Irrawady dolphins, this time from the Cambodian side of the border. We hopped in a tuk-tuk and were driven to the dolphin spot – a regulated area where all the boats go from.
Having bought tickets, we set off and almost immediately were greeted by a dolphin. The driver didn’t seem very interested and carried on upriver, which we soon realised was because there were plenty more of them 400m upstream.
I was surprised to see a few young ones circling around with the adults – a promising sign for an endangered animal. We sat for over an hour watching various small groups of 2 or 3 swim about & come up for air. They aren’t the most active dolphins and don’t really jump or play like some other species, but it was great to watch them for a while & in greater numbers than we had seen from the Laos side. Claire even managed to catch a photo of the tail of one of the smaller ones!
When we returned to shore, our tuk-tuk picked us up & took us to the nearby Pagoda – a religious site at the top of a steep hill. It was all a bit empty, which i wasn’t really expecting. It’s low season, but i hadn’t realised the level of tourism mattered to religious places too! Nevertheless, we were able to explore a fair bit & it had some nice views of the surrounding area too.
From there, we headed back to the hostel & went off to find some lunch. There weren’t many options in what is a small & not particularly touristy town, but we found a half decent pizza which did the job. After lunch (& the downpour that hit during it), we had a walk around town. This yielded little, other than comfortably the worst donut either of us have ever eaten – stale, a little bit too ant-covered (something we are generally fairly immune to by now) & generally unpleasant – and a surprisingly decent market with all sorts of fruit, veg, general items & a lot of meat which would have been thrown in the bin by most people at home had it been left out in that heat for that long!
Side point: Bag on a stick. If you are sat next to something that you don’t want flies landing on, but you can’t really be bothered to move such as the leftover food at a barbecue, why not simply tie an empty but inflated sandwich bag to the end of a stick & waft it around a bit? Minimum effort, maximum reward! (Until you stop wafting, at which point the flies pour in)
The rest of the day was spent playing pool with tiny balls on a full size snooker table, which was remarkably difficult, watching the sunset/rain from the balcony in our hostel, playing cards & eating a dinner of simple curries. We then headed out to see if anyone in town was showing the football, as England were in action again – this time up against Sweden.
Kratie is a small town and there aren’t many tourists, so after walking around town trying to find anywhere at all which might be showing the game, we remembered that the place we had lunch had a TV so checked it out (they were indeed showing the match) & happened across what I think was the only other English person in town! The game itself was predictably dull, so Claire bailed & went to bed, prompting an immediate England goal. By the time the game was over, I too was pretty much asleep, but in a good mood at least, so headed back to bed to get some sleep before our early bus in the morning.
It wasn’t a particularly exciting place, but Kratie had some nice qualities, the dolphins were great to see & it was a much more enjoyable day than the first day we had in Cambodia!