From Diary 5 and the Eastern Cambodia, I now
visit the Kratie area.
15/1 The plan is to drive slowly towards Kratie, and stop whenever there is something interesting. It is not that much: The first 100 kilometres is back almost to Stung Treng, then turn down south.
The sun is not really into it, and a few times, the nights showers start, just to stop within minutes.
I do some short stops at the ponds, at some water
buffalos and in a tiny village, which could be Kbal Romeas. I see
and find a big mug of ice-coffee. They have hens all over the place, but
no pigs at all.
I reach Kratie around two, and head down to the
river in the middle of town. As expected, I find several guesthouses,
and chooses one of the nicer. $10 for a double room with a 30 square
meter balcony, facing the Mekong. A short tour round the corner
reveals a typical tourist restaurant with pale faces and all.
A bit shopping around reveals a paint brush and a second-hand towel: It is time to clean up the car inside. I am not aloud to drive with the windows open on dusty roads - which I haven't done - much. However, the car is suspicious red inside. It does cost me half a dollar and fifteen minutes, but then it look like when I got it.
Back at the hotel, I do some homework, but I'm
restless. A tour around the central streets, but avoids the marked,
right around the corner. To make up for the failed haircut, I get
another one, and despite he have little to work with, he do a great job.
Then it is time for dinner in my new favourite
restaurant, and back to work. The few photos of the greyish day is
just added to the general tour.
16/1 It seems like the forecast is right, and I just have to adjust. I make a rough calculation of the expenses to build a new tissueculture-laboratory, update my general accountant sheets and unsuccessful try to find new sights to explore.
At noon, I head out in the still dry town and find some Tofu Amok with steamed rice for lunch. The sun starts to peak through, and I have to do something. 30 kilometres south, a village have the remains of a colonial town, and it seems like a great afternoon project.
The road follow the Mekong, and it is lined with small farm huts and rice patches. The Mekong is almost hidden behind huge bamboo most of the way, and here are quite some temples along the road. I make some stops at a few of them, but they are not that interesting, as they are rather new. The "old one" is almost 200 years old. The only interesting is how rag-tag their statues are. And some are real bad, and I can't even figure what animal it should be. Tiger, pig of dear?
The rice patches are in all stages. Died out brown ones, newly prickled, lush and green, almost ripen and some are being harvested today. It does not seems like it make much money, until I get to a wedding. In front of some shags, several huge pavilions are filled with hundreds of tables and chairs.
I reach Chhlong and have a bit hard to find the city. It is just a line of shops, scattered along the road. I get an ice-coffee in one of them, and do a bit of walking. Mopeds with ten meter timber on the trailers are passing bye constantly. Another have some pigs tied up, and they are - like all the others I have see treated like this - bright red, but they have stopped screaming. I'm glad I don't support this animal cruelty!
Then I start driving back, and make another stop in the start of the town. Here, the old colonial houses are found in the parallel street, closer to the river. Or what is left of them. It is like the whole town is vanishing. Even the market is kind of falling apart and half empty. I do some loops around most of the area, but besides from the authentic colonial houses, here are nut much to see.
I do a breath stop at one of the bridges to see
the house-boats. In some areas of the big river, many are tied up
together, forming villages.
The few photos of the day are in Chhlong Colonial Village.
Dinner is made up by noodles with vegetables AND roasted tofu. It is amassing how that else so tasteless stuff can create a dinner, given it is spiced the right way.
While I eat it, I start wondering: Do I usually hold the knife in the right or left hand? I really can't remember! The last two months, I have only had chop-sticks or fork and spoon. The latter, I swap from hand to hand. I find no other way to solve the mystery, but ordering a crÍpes with Nutella and bananas. Then, they have to give me a knife. It slip right into right hand.
17/1 At breakfast, I start talking to a Cuban New Yorker, on her way through Asia to end up in the Philippines, preparing for a bodybuilding contest. It is a rather interesting conversation, and as I have plenty of time, I drive out just before noon. When I get to my car, it is the only one from a real long line, that is not blocked in by double-parking.
The plan for the day is only fifteen kilometres op along the Mekong to Kampi. The road is real beautiful, with lots of trees along it, rice patches and small farm huts. It is only a single lane road, but sealed. In one place, they are preparing for a party on the road, and the cars have to drive on the gravel shoulder.
I stop several times to enjoy the farmland and the
river, and once at some sheets with carved wood. A bit further up the
road, I find quite some people gatherers, and I have to pay to park.
A bit further up the road, I find a low-key
monastery. A local is getting his car blesses, and the cows are tied
up on the surounding fields. I think I will head further up this road
tomorrow, and return to the wood shops.
We are about ten metres from the pier, when the first dolphin blows. Here are around 20 animals in smaller groups, all over the area. Once again, I try to get a good picture, and It kind of succeeds. Then we go a bit further up the river to some rapids, and I get a look at the vegetation on the sand banks within the river.
Back at the pier, I buy a Lychee Drink, and sit at
the riverside to enjoy the dolphins for a long time. Then I slowly head
back to the big Kratie, and do some walking around town. I have saved
the market, but it is not really that big, nor interesting. A bit to
much modern and too clean.
Not surprisingly, I bump into the Cuban-American. We make a appointment about dinner later, and I head home to work a bit. When I meet her again, she is stunned by some news two Irish guys have told her. Her favourite Trumph are apparently into all the presidency-thing due to the oil-embargo Obama made towards Russia. Trumph and friends had just invested 500 billions in Russian oil rights. And now, all his dubious friends are getting high positions. The Irish figures Trumph is in for it as long as possible, making as much money as he can get away with, knowing he will get sacked, but only after two years.
She leave early, and I keep talking with the Irish bikers till late, and then home to finish the work. Again, the few pictures of the day just go into the general tour slideshow.
I have down-graded myself to a room without balcony. I didn't use it anyway, and I forgot to look out the windows, while I sat and worked.
Another noodle-less breakfast: Mixed fruit with yoghurt and omelette
with bred. The plan is simple; drive 35 kilometres up north to Sambor
and see their 100 pillar wat and the Mekong Turtle Conservation Centre.
Along the way, I find some ferries on the Mekong, and
when I don't need t, they do take cars. Next to the ferry harbour,
several houseboats are found along the banks.
Sambor is smaller than I had expected, and I find the large Wat Sor-sor Moi Roi (temple-thing) right away. It take me half a minute to walk around it, to get the light right. Then I am at the Mekong Turtle Conservation Centre. It take some time to get the caretaker to open the door and accept my money, but then I get a personal guiding around the entire facility. That last around a minute and a half.
I see several of the babies, tugged away in each little, clean aquarium. A cage have six odd turtles and tortoises mixed together, and a large pool should hold a large Mekong Turtle. The muddy water and its ability to withhold its breast prevents me from seeing it.
Somehow, I feel the anticipation I had for this day might been a bit over the top. I see the entire town, and head back to the junction, and what might be Hak Bora. Again, I see every shop and stall in the market, but it does not last long.
I do a
stop at the dolphin sighting place, buy a new soda with an elephant on.
Elephant juice? No, it is, despite I was told otherwise, just a beer.
Then, as I walk to the benches to watch the dolphins, I'm asked to show
my ticket. Well, I'm not going to pay nine dollars for that.
I stop at what might be the old Phnom Sombok Wat.
They have some rice spread out for drying, and a real long canoe.
After that, I finally succeed to capture the famous
sunset in Kratie. Not bad at all.
And then, as I enters the South-Eastern Cambodia, it is time for Diary 7