When we left Phnom Penh, we boarded this amazingly funky hippie bus. I felt like this was going to be a great ride. I mean, look at this bus! How could you not be feeling amazing vibes from this?
We got to Kratie, Cambodia close to sunset, and were concerned because we heard when we got there that there was some sort of festival going on and accommodation was going to be difficult to find. However, we were able to walk right in and get accommodation for one night and that there would be others available the next night. It was great, and even with “festival pricing” we paid $7 total ($3.50 per person), plus we got this sunset view.
The next day we found our new room, right around the corner, for only $5 “festival pricing” ($2.50 each), had banana pancakes for breakfast and then rented bicycles to get some exercise and save some money to make our way to see the Irrawaddy Dolphins.
I wish I had taken the time to stop and take more photos of the beautiful people and the lives they were living along the way, but unfortunately, I was distracted smiling because I loved this so much, waving to small children who were yelling, “Hellllllllo!” and running out into the street to high five me! It was really beautiful and just a more unique way to see Cambodian culture.
When we went to see the Irrawaddy Dolphins I had looked a few things up about them before we left, which I’m glad I did because there was no explanation or even really communication other than, “Look!” and a pointed finger in the direction of the dolphins.
Some Irrawaddy Dolphin Facts:
» There are only 78-91 of these dolphins left in the Mekong River
» They inhabit coastal areas as well as three different rivers in Southeast Asia (From India to the Philippines)
» While often called “river dolphins” they are actually oceanic dolphins with subpopulations that inhabit the Mekong, Ganges and Irrawaddy Rivers.
» They typically move in groups of 2-3 *
Irrawaddy Dolphins aren’t especially known for jumping or showing off their tails, but we managed to see around 5 different dolphins and although it wasn’t up close & personal or crazy jumps or anything it was still a really incredible experience knowing that we were seeing something so rare in the wild.
This was probably the most whole view of a dolphin that we saw. It was really beautiful and fun to look back and forth over the sides of the boat until the guide said, “Look!” and pointed our eyes in the right direction.
This is a photo found on Pinterest. We saw nothing close this, but this is what you see advertised (I wasn’t expecting this of course) but gets you a better image of what they look like.
Like I said, biking in Kratie was one of my favorite experiences of the trip. However, when we started we didn’t realize that we were going to be biking 22 miles in 93-degree, sunny weather. We were very sore when we got back to our Guest House, but we slept good that night!
Another stop was at this beautiful wat and monastery / school. It was very beautiful, but I wasn’t appropriately dressed to go into the wat, so I didn’t even try. I loved these beautiful elephants greeting us at the gate and the rows upon rows of flags hung all across the grounds.
I thought it would only be fair to show one of the Guest Houses. This was the cooler room for sure, it had a mirror on the opposite wall, and a cozy desk. It’s major downside was the shared bathroom that was steaming hot over the kitchen, but I can’t truly complain with the price being what it was.
This was one of the street views at night. It felt pretty cozy and it was a nice little break from the hustle & bustle of Phnom Penh.
I know I mentioned festival pricing, so it would only be fair to talk about the first ever River Festival in Kratie. Not only was it the first River Festival, but it was the first festival specifically made to drive tourism in all of Cambodia! How cool is that?! We unfortunately weren’t in town for much of it, but we went to two nights of celebration, including the night that the Deputy Prime Minister came and spoke. That night we talked to a group of men from different parts of Cambodia who were elated that we were there from so far away to experience this. They told us more about the festival, about the Deputy Prime Minister, Cambodian culture and expressed gratitude for us traveling in and therefore economically supporting Cambodia. In front of the stage was so crowded and we had just decided not to stay for the speeches when a man said they had a special tourist section! We were escorted to VIP section that included a traditional Cambodian snack & a bottle of water.
Awards were given out and speeches were made. The Deputy Prime Minister spoke on how the Cambodian economy was booming thanks to tourism. The part that made me really proud was that he really emphasized culturally & environmentally sustainable tourism, which I think is so crucial to preserving all aspects of what makes us want to travel. I was so grateful to have been given the seat I had and the opportunity to hear him & others speak on this important topic.
Though our stay in Kratie was short, it was amazing and I have a whole new list of things I’d love to do the next time I’m there.
*The Irrawaddy Dolphin facts came from Wikipedia
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