Wednesday in Kratie

Another lazy morning, had a potter around town, just going back 2 streets from the one along the Mekong and you’re out of the area tourists go and into a far more local area. One more street back and you’re in their farmland!

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I was walking through a fruit/veg/meat/fish market when someone shouted out ‘hello and how are you?’

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So, never one to pass up a conversation with a random stranger I stopped to talk to girl and her family about what I was doing there – apparently tourists never venture in this direction – 2 streets away from the river!! Her father brought us, her and her cousins a watermelon which we shared while chatting about our lives.

Eventually I felt I should leave otherwise I’d sit there all day. So said my goodbyes and thank you and headed to the market for supplies for my bus journey the following day – a baguette, a Chinese pear and some tiny oranges.

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Then time for lunch, passed my laundry drying and time to make a decision as to whether to do nothing all afternoon or go hire a bike and get out to the island just of Kratie, Koh Trong.

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As I’d not even made the effort to go see the Irrawaddy dolphins I thought I’d best go get a bike! $1 later I was heading to the pier with my bike for the afternoon.

To catch the boat you have to get yourself and the bike down a load of steps, over a plank of wood and up onto the boat, watching your head as you go and for 2000 riels (50p) once there’s enough people you get taken over the river to the island.

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A short 5 minute hop and we landed on the island. What I hadn’t fully appreciated was the long walk across the sand to get to the island proper – closer to the rainy season you can get right to the shore are the beach is under the water. This wouldn’t have been so bad but pushing a bike across sand is tiring and it fills your shoes!

The island was well worth the trip though, really quiet only 2 other girls were on the boat and after 20mins of cycling they had disappeared. There’s a mixture of a concrete path and bumpy track to cycle around the island past the islanders houses, farmland and animals. There’s also a local temple on the route and at the far end of the island a Vietnamese style temple and a floating village on the river.

It was here I bumped into a lovely couple who after a bit of a drama at the Laos/Cambodian border accidently left a yellow ukulele at the Laos side – after I gave them my map of the island they said if I could find it I could have it – sadly when I was at the border I totally forgot!

After another long walk across the sand, heading for the wrong boat landing, and a detour back to the right random bit of sand I was on the boat. Sat with 2 irish people and together we contemplated the long walk back up the steps from the riverside……

It made me think back to my boat trip from battambang to siem reap and the man who carried my bag for a small fee…. Sadly no such luck today!!! But there was a little ramp up the side of the steps and by pushing the bike up that we all made it to the top with high5s all round!

With that we went our separate ways. I got back to the guesthouse and treated myself to a beer. ‘Cambodia’ beer (the brand) have a competition with their cans with the old fashioned ringpulls. Normally they just say ‘arkoun’ thank you in Cambodian, but this one said something different. With the chance of winning a motorbike I was very excited – turns out I’d won a free can of beer, but having to walk to the market to claim it and leaving the country in the morning I gave it to the member of staff to claim instead!!

Another extra early start in the morning, a Skype call to Nikki before the 7.30 local bus to Laos.

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