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Last days in Cambodia...

Kratie town (pronounced "Krautcheh") and Stung Treng

sunny 31 °C

We moved on from Phnom Penh to a small town called Kratie, located in between Phnom Penh and the Laos border.It's quite small, but I may just have to move there one day.
Indeed, women there (as in many parts of Cambodia, but it seemed more prevalent in Kratie) wear pyjamas OUT ON THE STREET!!! to run arrands, and stuff!!! Ideal world or what!!!
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This is only 1 pic, but they are EVERYWHERE!!! hehehe!

The main attarction is Kratie is to see the Irrawwady dolphins, a rare specie of fresh water dolphins who remain only in very few numbers in certain part of the region. They are under pressure due to the "same old" pollution and destruction of their habitat, but their population took a significant dive when the Khmer Rouge shot them as practice targets for many years (champion!!).
There are no pictures of the many we were lucky to see, as they don't exactly pose and wait for a pic, and they don't jump or anything either. In any case, it was a very pleasurable moment.

We stayed in Kratie for a couple fo days as it is a nice quiet, "real" town and everyone was extremely friendly (having at us and saying hello ALL THE TIME). In any case, we didn't learnt he word for hello in Khmer, as everyone greeted us with the english version (contrary to Thailand or even here in Laos where they actually only use their language (and currency!!)

Let's end this Kratie entry with a sunset from our hotel (yes yes, a hotel, for $3US/night, we got a actual hotel, where many members of the UNESCO, UN and OXFAM regularly stay!! It was nice after the super noisy dormitory in Phnom Penh!) and it was right on the magnificient and 1km wide - in dry season) Mekong river

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We left Kratie for the town of Stung Treng, the closest town to the Laos border.
Here is a pic of the bus terminal fo Stung Treng.
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(hehehe, yes it's an empty field!)
We arrived there after a few hour bus (local bus -we were the only white people) ride.
Funny interlude:We have so far noticed over and over again that "kids are kids are kids" (ie. seeing them play around and interact, and..just be), but we got a proof that "men are men are men" on that bus. It kinda broke down a little on the way. The driver and another man came off the bus to see and fix the problem, well, within about 2 minutes, almsot every man on the bus had also stepped outside and were standing around, looking as if to assess the problem, but not doing anything. The bus driver fixed it (under the watchful eye of about 10 othe rmen) and everyone cam back ont eh bus and we took off! hehehe! Unfortunately, only women don't seem to be equal or same same everywhere...

So anyway, we didn't stay long in Stung Treng as it is an official hole small town, with nothing but garbage everywhere (this can be extended to all of Cambodia, but at least there's normally other stuff to see as well). They at least have a nice sunset, as you can see...
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We got screwed pretty bad here by the travel agent guy (actually, it was totally our own fault). We got a price from him and walked around to get other prices - as one must ALWAYS do-. His was $12, and the only other person we were able to get a price from quoted us $9....it sounded like the itineary was the same (boat to bus to border, bus to boat to island). Being Westeners, we were worried about such a big difference (which is rarely more than $1-2, even if you visit 10 places). We saw our man againa nd asked him, He sais we must not have got the last boat (to the island - our destination)...we believed him and bought our $12tickets (asking him got him to throw-in breakfast, which technically reduced the cost to $11).
(Imp detail: he repeatdly said that he took us himself across the border, and he had a group of people who had just come from Laos with him staying at the hotel. We talked with them and they seemed happy with him...)

Well, we get on the boat, and we're the only white people again. As the boat begins to leave (it's a small small small ferry boat, 10 min crossing the Mekong) Aliya says: "At least our man is still on the boat", at which exact moment he starts walking and GETS OFF the boat!!!!
We're like....hmmm....
We get off ont eh other side, walk up the dirt road to the road, wondering how long we should wait before turning around to go beat him up.. when someone waves at us. We get to the minibus, only to find THE OTHER MAN!! who had quoted us the CHEAPER tickets!!!! He asked us how much we paid and looked actually pretty pained..so were we! He ended up dirivng us to the border, and we ended up all fine on our journey, but we paid way too much!

Finishing this entry with the "super high tech/high security" Cambodia border:
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Cheers!

Posted by Mistrale 05:21 Archived in Cambodia

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