So our bus dropped us off on the riverside in the centre of this mellow town and we got ourselves sorted with some accommodation in silver dolphin which had a good party atmosphere and a rooftop bar with a lovely view over the river. It was really noisy for us though as our room was just off the rooftop bar, so stay somewhere else and just visit the bar! We ventured out and explored the town and the night market, I just love South East Asia for grocery shopping! Out are you supermarkets and delis and in are you wooden baskets on poles flush with fruit, honey coated crickets on the back of a moto, shops on wheels and locals haggling over fish and meat cut on wooden slabs in the markets!
The next morning, we ate in the Tokeo restaurant featuring a cool art piece of a gecko (these guys make a lot of noise for such small creatures and are everywhere in SE Asia!), we were nicely fed on western food and so we headed for the island of Koh Trong ? We took the boat along with many locals ferrying rice and coconuts over to the island, cost us 1,000 riel (for pennies!) and took 10 minutes. The boat landed on a sand bank and we walked up to find a homestay, one was really close to the boat landing and the other is 3km away but we only discovered this after trying and failing to find the latter one lol!
We got to our homestay and they made us up mattresses on their living room floor with a curtain around it We then ventured off to the bike rental place and got a couple of bikes for 2 dollars each (not exactly state of the art bikes but sure they do the job!). We cycled the 9km loop around the island and were greeted by many hellos from adorable local children. The island is unspoilt with no roads and no cars, it gives a real insight into rural life and feels like you are in a whole different world from Kratie only 10 mins away, its like the boat has traveled back in time to the 50s with people manually pumping water and using oxen to plough fields and transport goods. We seen many sights on our loop from pomelo trees to temples to a floating village.
There’s no wifi on the island which gives you a chance to unplug and be truly free for a day ? After our cycle we were in bad need of a shower, our homestay had showers but not as we thought! Bucket showers! It was an interesting experience! We then went for a walk on the beach at dusk, and seen lots of ox carts galloping along the sand towards the final boat of the day, a tour group got out and were transported to the homestay by ox-cart. It was really wonderful to see ? We also seen farmers training the oxen to drive the carts ? We had dinner and beers in the homestay and let me tell you it was delicious ? There was battered chicken, spiced beef stew (yum!), sticky rice and veg with watermelon for dessert. We were stuffed,we chatted to the family and watched some telly (cartoons for the kids ?).
It is common in Cambodia for many family members to live together, for example, in our homestay there was the mother,daughter,son in law and the grand kids. They all help each other out and this feeling of family values and community is just lovely ?. Lights out at nine (the electricity gets cut off then) and so it was a super early night. We arose at six am to the sound of the vegetable plot being watered by manual pump and the kids playing in the early morning sun. We had breakfast with a lovely Taiwanese girl who had slept in the house next door and made some plans with her to head to Kampi later that morning.
After breakfast, with tea served from a teapot fashioned from a coconut shell, we parted ways with our friendly homestay family and got the boat back to Kratie. We then hunted down a tuk tuk drived who brought us to Kampi and back for 15 dollars, he waits for you whilst you do the boat trip. The tuk tuk journey was lovely and we got to know Coral from Taiwan ? The boat trip cost us 7 dollars each and the captain really knew where he was going in order to spot the irrawaddy dolphins.
These dolphins are rare, they are also hard to spot and even harder to photograph as they only barely surface, its almost like they are teasing you. We seen the dolphins and it was a very special trip, to see these rare creatures. We had a very fast lunch when we got back to Kratie as our bus was at 1pm to Banlung (no need as the bus stopped for a food break 10 mins into our journey lol) The bus was packed to the rafters so we sat on plastic stools on the aisle for a while! Fun times lol!
Next post will feature our adventures in Banlung! xx