Where We Be
Kratie, Cambodia
Kratie offers a convenient stopping point along
the way for those heading north to Laos -- plus
the chance to see rare Irrawaddy river dolphin.
This is pretty much the one reason to come to
Kratie other than the opportunity to enjoy a fine
sunset over the Mekong River. The town itself
(pronounced Krat-cha) is attractive in a low-key
way with its setting on the Mekong.

We spent $7 each for a one-hour boat trip along
the Mekong River with no guarantee of seeing
dolphin. Truthfully we had low expectations but
the trip turned out to be a big success. Almost
from the beginning we saw pods of freshwater
dolphin, usually three or four at a time. The  
blunt-nosed dolphin have a small dorsal fin
located further back than usual, closer to the
tail. We especially liked when the driver turned
off the engine so we could hear the dolphin
blowing out water. They're quite rare so getting
to see them up close was a real treat.
Kratie's broad riverside street is where most
tourist hotels and restaurants are located
On the tuk-tuk ride back to town, we passed stand after stand selling sticky rice. Our tuk-tuk driver stopped at one of the stands
and this friendly woman gave us three sticks for a buck. Our driver showed us how to peel away the bamboo, remove the plug
on top, and eat the sticky rice inside. It was mildly sweet with a few small beans mixed in. Not bad, but a bit bland for our taste.
At the put-in point outside of town we boarded a small boat and
spent an hour puttering around in search of Irrawaddy river dolphin
The river scenery was Monet-like
We lucked out and got plenty of good sightings of the river dolphin -- including this one at play
It almost seemed like this pod was trained to lead us back to port -- they traveled nearly the whole way with us
The mighty Mekong is broad even during the dry season
Sunsets over the Mekong are a definite highlight --
preferably with an Angkor Beer in hand
On our last morning in Cambodia I decided to try a typical Khmer breakfast. The chicken broth contained rice that was
almost oatmeal-like in consistency plus pieces of chicken, along with lime wedges and fermented beans (salty) on the side.
The bus journey north to the Laos border was long and slow. Road conditions were terrible -- everything
was under construction or in dire need of it. Shrubs and trees by the roadside looked dead under layers of dirt.
A few blocks in from the Mekong is the town center,
geared more towards locals than tourists
Corner fruit stands like this one offer plenty of selection
These are lotus fruit (left) and durians (right). Two nice Cambodian women on a recent bus ride shared their lotus fruit with us. We weren’t even
sure how to eat it at first, but you poke through the lotus skin to get to the oval green buds inside, then you bite the green skin off the buds
to get to the crunchy edible whitish part. As for the famously smelly durians, we've seen more than one hotel sign saying "No durians!"
Everywhere we've gone in Cambodia we've seen signs for the Cambodian People's Party --
the current ruling party. Sometimes it seems like their signs are posted on every street corner.
Kratie is a sleepy but attractive town along the Mekong River