Kratie – Welcome to Cambodia!
The Cambodian flag, by Paul Arps from Flickr (c).
Kratie, the first city of my around Cambodia trip. The small town has a population of about 38,000 and lies on the banks of the Mekong River. The city is dominated by a central marketplace surrounded by old, French colonial buildings. The town includes big islands with white sand beaches within the Mekong. The stretch of river north of the city is home to a group of rare Irrawaddy dolphins.
If you were wondering, “Sues day” means hello in Khmer, the language of the Khmer people of Cambodia.
Bye bye Laos, Hello Cambodia!
My journey to Kratie started in Don Det, Laos. At the cost of 190000Kip (23~ USD) i got a combined ticket to Kratie, that means: a boat from Don Det to Ban Nakasang, and a direct bus to Kratie with a long stop at the Lao-Cambodian border. All this process took me about 8-9 hours.
Arriving to Kratie was exciting, a new place to explore in a whole new country, Cambodia. When i arrived to Kratie i met a nice guy named Tal, with whom we had traveled around Cambodia for a while, went to different places and eventually met each other in Sihanoukville, a beach city in Southern Cambodia. After a small backpackers talk, we agreed on getting a room together. So the plan was to find an ATM for some dollars (In Cambodia most of the trade goes in USD, and some in the local currency, the Cambodian Riel) and to find a good room for two. I withdrawed about 300USD, Tal got his money out and we started moving around in a search for a guesthouse. We found a place with a room for just 4 USD (after some bargain) in a guesthouse close to the centre of the city, hot water and two beds with a fan. it was so freaking hot inside. Good thing, the room had nude paintings of Khmer girls, why not? 😉
What to do in Kratie?
The city is pretty small and you can travel around by foot or by cheap bicycles (4000 Riel/1 USD per day. For those who want to go out-of-town and see the Mekong dolphins (Kampi village, 15 km north from Kratie is a good spot), Phnom Sombok (a temple 10 km north of Kratie on a prominent hill), or Sambor (pre-Angkorian era settlement, 40km away from Kratie), you should get a scooter. Honda bikes go for about 8USD/32000 Riel per day, gasoline is about 80US cent/800 Riel per liter. We did not have any intentions of traveling by scooter, but we did really want to cycle around, somehow we had heard of Koh Trong, a small island just across the river, 10 minutes boat ride from Kratie.
~~~ A short day in Koh Trong ~~~
The boat ride to the island is very loud, the engine is outside and you can see all the mechanism working, interesting but painful for your ears. It only takes 10 minutes, so all good. You will arrive to a small docking place in the beach, from there you have a short walk of about 10 minutes towards the first village, where you rent a bike (1-2 USD/4000-8000Riel). The bikes are in an O.K condition, it will take you about 60-90 minutes to go around the island.
~~ What to do in Koh Trong, where to cycle? ~~
Just cycle along the path, you will find local people who live a completely quite island life, support them by buying food/drinks and not littering around. You can plant a tree to help the community, me and Tal got a tree seed and a small sign for 5USD, to put on near the planted tree. A cool and rewarding experience for sure, the tree must have grown by now, i might go back one day and check on it. We saw trees planted decades ago, growing and giving hope and fruits to people.
Going along the path will get you into another dimension for a while, the scenery is so authentic. There is a temple on the way, open fields and fresh air all around.
Don’t stop, keep cycling and you will see a Vietnamese floating village! Yes, a floating village!
So around 80 minutes total. My phone broke in that island, still not sure what was the reason, the machine is still dead :[. I had to buy a ZTE phone for 200USD, it had good camera and a decent rig with Android system. There is not much to do at night in Kratie, chill out at your guesthouse and enjoy the quite city life.
From Kratie we got on a bus and went to Sen Monorom, a beautiful city in Cambodia’s largest and most low-populated province, Mondulkiri.
Thx for reading, keep supporting guys! Great day/night!