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Stop off in Kratie to see the Irrawaddy Dolphins

Having spent most of our time in Phnom Penh organising Xmas and New Year we finally came to a decision about the next part of our travels. We read about the Elephant Valley Project that was located close to the eastern border with Vietnam and wanted to spend a few days there volunteering.

Due to timings when we could join we had a few days to spare and because we had been in Phnom Penh a bit too long we decided to bus it to Kratie and spend a night there so we could experience the Mekong and also find the Irrawaddy dolphins that are rare mammal indigenous to Mekong region.

The beginnings of our trip did not start off well as the bus company decided just to not come and pick us up from our hostel and so we had to get a tuk-tuk and ask around before being shown to our bus (with only a minute to spare). It was early in the morning and making our way out of Phnom Penh still took some time but as soon as we did get out we hit our first obstacle, the road. It was a uneven track that would kick up dust as soon as a car would decide to wizz by making it almost impossible to see what lay ahead. Still the driver remained on course and I was beginning to realise why this trip would take so long!!

When we did reach Kratie we instantly felt as though we were getting further into the rural part of Cambodia. The roads were quieter, the people appeared to have less money but also the Mekong was spread out across the scenery for us to marvel at. The sheer size of this river takes your breath away, and what's more was that by Kratie there is an island within the Mekong River called Koh Trong that takes 9km to cycle round so you can begin to realise the size of it.

Our guesthouse was a short trip away from the centre and we were pleased with our choice as it stuck to its name 'Balcony' Guesthouse supplying a perfect balcony to watch the sunset go down. During our chill out time we met Harriet who was travelling through Cambodia on her own. After a few drinks we found out that she worked in Advertising as well and funnily enough had the same job as me but for a different agency. She also knew people that Sarah had worked with. It is a small world after all.

The next day we made our way to the Irrawaddy Dolphin location via tuk-tuk. The project had been set up a few years back to help sustainability as the species was beginning to see a number of calves die without explanation. The dolphin is recognisable from its bulbous foreheads and tiny dorsal fins.

On our way we got to see the rural life with many people by the road side selling fruit or vegetables or just lazing in the heat. We also got to the see the houses that are built on stilts.

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When we reached the location the set up was very basic but we were shown to our boat and lucky for us within seconds the dolphins were appearing from all angles. Two even came so close to our boat that we saw their bulbous heads and unthreatening eyes. I was amazed to say the least! I wasn't really sure how I would react but to see them up so close was a real privilege, and what's more was that we were the only ones on the river for some time which added to the experience as it was so quiet and a peaceful.

Sarah managed to get some action shots but we saw quite a lot more of them than what came out, its only that the click of the finger was just not fast enough to capture what were saw.

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Stay tuned for more tales.

Dan

Posted by doyledan 04:47 Archived in Cambodia

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