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Friday 26 Jun
kratie, Cambodia

Dolphin wars and security calf

Kratie was a great place to stop for a break for a couple of nights during our long bus journey to the Cambodia/Laos border.  It is a very chilled out town on the Mekong, with a nice market and not a great deal to do.  Few travelers, guest houses or bars were present, which was just what I needed after Siem Riep.  I also badly needed some food after having lost my appetite for 6 days or so, and promptly ordered the tastiest looking noodles, at a riverside stall, which unfortunatley came with meat in them! -  the nice cook couldn't really understand the concept of vegetarianism, and so just took out all the meat and gave it back to me to eat! Don't worry; I survived by getting some dinner later.

This area is famous for the rare Mekong river dolphins (maybe only 70 left). These dudes are not your typical flipper and the photos I saw they must have fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down (can dolphins climb trees?!), however who am I to say what is attractive or not to another dolphin.  Any marine biologists out there who know please write in.  I mean they looked pretty bad to me (i have been accused in the past of dolphin harassment, but to my critics; I would like to remind you that there was no evidence presented and the charges were dropped). 

So the activities in Kratie were really just a choice of dolphin spotting/hunting or to check out the small island, Nha Trong, which nestles in the middle of the mighty Mekong.  We felt the dolphins probably deserved a break and to be left alone to do their thing (as to be fair, I have never had a bunch of dolphins hanging around trying to spot or take photographs of me).  We would adventure then to the island completely removed from time and modern fashions - Nha Trong.

Let me paint you a picture in your mind's eye:  It was an extremely hot day - both bob and I felt on many occasions like fainting; but we knew we had a mission to accomplish.  We went through our military style action check-list: Partially working bicycles - check. Sun tan lotion on - check. Comedy scarves wrapped around our heads - check. Wait around on a ferry port for an hour whilst people laugh at us - check.  Small boy helping me to lift my bike onto a small boat because I couldn't do it and balance at the same time - check. It was all go.

After the 5 minute crossing, we disembarked onto what seemed like miles and miles of river mud (but was just only about 60 meters, I just said miles and miles for dramatic effect).  We lofted our bikes onto our shoulders and painstakingly climbed up onto the island.  Nha Trong was around 1 or 2 kilometers in length and maybe one wide; it was kind of shaped into an ellipse and pointed on the it's north and south due to the river's flow.  The place was amazing, very basic dwellings, some cattle, big expanses of vivid green rice paddies and water buffalo in the centre of the island with one dirt track that circles the outside of the island.  There were also hundreds of children (probably because there is bugger all to do apart from wink at the misses and suggest that you have an early night! ).  We were rather surprised and delighted to find that pretty much everyone on the island shouted a genuine hello! when we cycled by.  I probably beat my own record for saying hello so many times in one day. 

We briefly stopped for a rest only to be spotted by a small child 100 m up the road.  He picked up a massive bamboo pole, started smacking it against a tree and shouting something quite loudly.  The next thing we knew there were 15 little children running as fast as they could towards us, and for some reason they thought we were the funniest thing since sliced bread (sliced bread isn't really that funny - mixed metaphor oops, badger on roller-skates maybe?!).  When monkey and udders decided to make an appearance, total hilarity broke out! This was such a funny experience - as was pedaling off with 10 or so kids trying to hang on to your bike. 

As we were getting back towards the mud banks where the small ferry beaches, we suddenly found that a small calf was squaring up to us strangely.  After a few stamps of his hoof it decided to fully charge at us - brief panic ensued and we struggled to get up to a calf beating speed on our rubbish bikes and just survived by the skin of our teeth.  This was security calf.  He has became elevated to a legendary status for me now and I think he is my favorite ever calf, and should win Cambodian calf of the year award.

After a busy day we headed back for a well earned beer and gather our stuff up for the trek to the border the next day.

Unusualness factor: 8

1 Comment for this Travel blog entry

Heather Says:

23 March

I enjoyed reading your posts! Reminds me of my time in Thailand. What an amazing part of the world, isn't it!? If you're curious to see reviews, photos, and info from locations across the world, check out my blog!

dirty-hippies(dot)blogspot(dot)com

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