Sorry, this is a text-only post. We are having Internet issues as well as issues with incorporating images into our posts. We will update this post when we have the technical issues straightened out
We made it to Kratie after a 5 hour uneventful car trip. We stayed at the Mom Brocheabrey Hotel ($25/night) until Wednesday January 22. It was nice enough, but located on the main drag at the center of town so it was a bit noisy during the day and early evening. Fortunately Cambodians are not night owls so it quiets down at night.
We did a half-day kayak trip on the Mekong River with Sorya Kayaking Adventures, which is owned by a very personable Aussie named Pete. Our guide for the day was Ben, a very knowledgeable local who speaks excellent English. The cost was $25 each. The tour was great and we highly recommend this kayak tour for anyone passing through Kratie. We did a lazy paddle down the river and through parts of the river that have islands that are completely submerged during the rainy season. One place we stopped had some snags in the trees about 5 meters above the water line. Ben told us that the river depth this time of year is 5 meters or so, and gets to around 20-25 meters during the rainy season. This completely submerges the tree trunks, leaving just the tree tops sticking above water. The highlight of the tour was seeing a dozen or so Irrawaddy dolphins that live in the river upstream of Kratie. We understand that the total dolphin population is about 90, and has been increasing over the last decade or so due to conservation efforts by the local people and government. We spent about an hour paddling around following the dolphins. They do not spend much time at the surface, or jump like Spinner dolphins, so about all you see is their head, back, and tail as they come up for air and then go back down. Still, a beautiful experience with just us and the dolphins on the quiet river.
Kratie was not all good news. Pete (the blogger, not the Aussie) continued his track record of sampling the state of medical care in Southeast Asia. He developed respiratory issues while in Phnom Penh, which turned to a bad cold, cough, and an ear ache that progressed to acute otitis media (severe middle ear infection) over our first couple of days in Kratie. That’s the bad news. The good news is that one of the staff at Sorya Kayaking (Boray) referred us to an excellent ear clinic that was located a half block from our hotel. We visited with Dr. Samel Khourn of All Ears Cambodia, an NGO that offers free health care to local people and who also graciously attend to the odd tourist or so who develop ear issues during their travels. Pete was very professionally attended to by Dr. Khourn, who assured him that all would be well in a week or so. He prescribed a course of antibiotics and ear drops, and instructed us to return for follow-up on Monday January 27. So it’s not a show-stopper, but we are stuck in Kratie for a week instead of just a few days. The situation could be a lot worse, though. We are grateful that we happened to be in a place where we could get excellent medical care for an emergency situation.
Pete has been spending a lot of time recovering and taking things easy. We moved to a more quiet hotel on Thursday January 23 (River Dolphin Hotel, $25/night), located away from the main part of town. The plan is for Pete to rest up over the next few days while Denise keeps herself busy. She found a volunteer job on our first day at the River Dolphin helping to teach English at a school just across the street from the hotel. She starts tomorrow.
January 27 update:
Pete visited Dr. Khourn today and learned that the middle ear infection has cleared. The ear still feels “full” but Dr. Khourn said that will clear up over the next week or two. We are so happy that he was available when we needed him, and we are also grateful that someone with his skills and training is available to help the local Cambodian people.
We’ve spent the past two days on Koh Trong, an island in the Mekong River near Kratie. We stayed at Homestay 1, run by a very nice family who made us feel welcome and cooked us some good food. The island is much quieter and laid-back than Kratie. Tomorrow (January 28) we plan to take a private car to Kampong Thom to stay in a homestay near some temple ruins for a couple of days.