After a lot of hesitation on what to do and where to go, we ended up in Kratie, where a pod of the last Irrawaddy dolphins can be seen. The town was not our first choice, but there a so few roads in Cambodia that traveling by local bus can be a real pain. In the end we just went for the “easier” (still a good 9 hours bus ride). It’s difficult to find any info or even a bus company office, we were pretty much stuck with what the guesthouse would sell us.
But Kratie is a nice small town for people who either want to head East go to the Lao border. We visited the cute market where we bought our fruits and sweets for breakfast and walked around to see the sunset over the Mekong. The next day we woke up too late to see the main attraction of the area: the dolphins. No problem, we’ll go in the late afternoon (they’re easier too spot early or late). We used that extra time to visit Koh Trang, a rural island just off the coast of Kratie. There we saw a floating village, which means the village moves on the water and could change location from one day to the other. There are a lot of them in this area of the world, but it was the first one I saw that was not attached to the coast, and what a sight! Back to the mainland, since it was too late to bike we hired a tuktuk. The driver thought Silvère was Cambodian or at least mixed Asian, for sure. He took us to the sacred mountain, a very interesting worshiping place with a lot of Buddhist sculptures. It seemed all brand new. We then headed to the river and as soon as we got on the boat, three dolphins greeted us, only a few meters from us! I even caught a glimpse of their typical flat smiley faces. I can’t believe how lucky I am with animals since the begining of that trip, but we saw many dolphin fins from there and then again from the shore, where we stayed to watch the sunset.
After Kratie, we took the bus to Banlung in the Ratanakiri province, an area reknown for jungle treks. Walking in the jungle in between Cambodia and Laos was not that interesting. The jungle is too dense to spot wildlife and is not particularly beautiful, but we got to sleep in a hammock under the stars, shower in the river and be far away from everyone else. A real jungle experience! Our guide made many things out of bamboo: a kind of guitar, shot glasses, chopsticks… and we had dinner with our headlamps, seeing the glow worms and sparkling eyes of all the insects and spiders watching us in the dark!