Four hours east of Kampong Cham was the lovely town of Kratie, so lovely that it left me wondering if perhaps we should have broken down our time in Cambodia differently? Had we spent too much time in Otres Beach? I tentatively suggested that perhaps we should come back to explore more of the Cambodian countryside at a later time of our trip? Oh, the meagerness of the one-month tourist visa.
Kratie is nothing more than a quaint little town along the Mekong river. There isn’t an amazing selection of guesthouses to choose from, but you can find cheapies scattered across town that are somewhat decent. We stayed at You Hong II guesthouse and it was very meh, but it was $5 for a double room with ensuite bathroom. If you are planning ahead of time unlike us, check out Le Tonlé. We had dinner there and it looked great, but they only have 4 rooms so it was fully booked when we emailed them. Best thing to do in Kratie is to hire a scooter and take in the scenery, visit neighboring basket weaving villages and go dolphin watching. There is a group of about 80 critically endangered irrawaddy river dolphins who live in Kratie and despite their small number, I think you are pretty much guaranteed to see some. We went there at around sunset and had a truly magical experience (despite – or because of?! – the rain). Grab a few krolans (these bamboo sticks you see everywhere along the road on the way. They’re filled with sweet coconut sticky rice and red beans and they are delicious!) and snack on those in the boat while you wait for the dolphins to make an appearance.
There was a temple called Wat Roka Kandal that was on our way back from the basket weaving village and so we decided to stop to take a peek. We had previously read that it would be locked and that it could prove difficult to find someone with a key, so we were pleasantly surprised when a young girl came running to unlock the temple for us, followed by 5 or 6 other girls, who were all very curious about me. They were all too happy to oblige and be goofballs when I asked if I could photograph them 🙂
One thing I’m starting to realize is that a one month visa is just the right amount of time to fall in love with a country and be heartbroken when you leave, but it is nowhere near enough time to feel like you are ready to move on. But Vietnam awaits us. Chum reep soor, Cambodia, see you soon.