Where I’ve Been: Kratie, Kampot, Sihanoukville – all Cambodia. Trat, Thailand
Where I’ve Stayed: Oudom Sambath, Kratie, Mad Monkey Hostel and Pepper Guesthouse, Kampot, Lim Hour Bungalow, Otres Beach, Sihanoukville and Pop Guesthouse, Trat.
I was back in Cambodia for a week and managed to visit three new towns and have a cab ride that pretty much summed up what it is like being in South-East Asia!
Dolphin spotting in Kratie
My first stop was Kratie (pronounced Kra-chee) which I arrived in last Tuesday (2 December) following a long and protracted border crossing from Laos to Cambodia.
I was with Ele and Anne who I had met on the 4,000 Islands and we only really had one full day in Kratie, which we used to go Dolphin watching.
Kratie is the best place in Cambodia to see the Irrawaddy dolphin. The Irrawaddy Dolphin is a super rare animal found in South-East Asia. Their numbers have been declining rapidly in recent years.
The Dolphin tour was ok, we did see the dolphin, but not very clearly. It was a bit like going to a music concert in a massive stadium and see your favourite musician from the back of the stand.
We also visited a couple of temples and a really cute turtle conservation centre on the way back.
The real eye opener was visiting the home of our tour guide as he took us back to the hotel. He worked at the hotel too and seemed to have a reasonable job there. Whilst I didn’t expect too much from his house I certainly thought he would be living somewhere better than he was.
It was just a ramshackle small wooden house on sticks. One room – lit up by one bulb, that he shared with his wife and their baby girl. He proudly showed us around (as much as he could!) and then took us back to the hotel. Once again it made me extremely appreciative of what I have back in England.
I do like to be besides the seaside
I was up early on Thursday (4 December) to move on to Kampot – leaving at 6.30am and eventually arriving around 7pm!
With a couple of people I met on the bus we went to Mad Monkey Hostel. The hostel was lovely – clean, nice swimming pool and little bar, really cheap. There was only one bad thing – I was on the top bunk literally right under the air con – it was so cold!
Anyway that evening we had a wander around the town and went to another hostel to listen to some live music.
Kampot is a very quaint seaside town – apparently the place where wealthier Cambodians come for their holidays and I can see why. It is quite different to all the other Cambodia towns or cities I have visited – quieter, cleaner, less hectic. There were some lovely riverside bars (the town also has a river running through it) and places to eat. Oh and also Kampot prison.
I moved to a new guesthouse for the third of my three nights in Kampot where I played a few games of pool with my Dutch friend Bob and watched some Premier League football in a bar.
A very crowded taxi
The following day (Sunday 7 December) I moved on from Kampot to Sihanoukville. A relatively short journey I had booked a bus through my guesthouse.
For whatever reason the bus forgot to pick me up or was full. So my Guesthouse said they had sorted out a taxi for me and I didn’t have to pay any extra.
Great I though a nice journey in a taxi with my own space. How wrong could I be…
The taxi picked me up and I put my backpack in the boot and relaxed. Then it went to the main town centre and picked someone else up who sat in the front with them. Then it went back into Kampot and picked someone else up, and then someone else, until eventually there were four of us, and a small baby, crammed into the back.
Finally we left Kampot and by now, with the heat beating through the window and the old taxi’s air con barely functioning, I was sweating. Still I thought it was only a two hour journey, I could put up with it.
Then a few miles outside we picked up someone else who sat in the passenger seat with the existing passenger and a few miles after than they picked someone else up who squeezed into the drivers seat alongside the driver! It was most definitely not the comfortable journey I had been expecting!
Eventually we made it to Sihanoukville and I got a taxi motorbike to Otres Beach where I was staying.
Sunbathing in Sihanoukville
I think I probably would have liked Sihanoukville a lot more a few years back. It is nice enough – a long white sandy beach with bars, restaurants and clubs all along it, but I have seen so much of that in my times travelling it really has to be something exceptional to truly impress me.
Still I have had a good couple of days here. I bumped into some travelling friends from Kampot and hung out with them and did a bit of sunbathing and reading.
Really there was little else to do and I didn’t fancy heading all the way back into the centre of Sihanoukville.
I left at about 7.30am this morning and got a bus across the border and am currently in Trat – a reasonably small town just in Thailand. I am only staying here one night as tomorrow I will get a boat to Ko Kut – an island off the South-Eastern coast of Thailand.
It is still apparently relatively undiscovered by tourists so I am looking forward to seeing it.