|Friday 12th February 2010
Today we crossed the border from Laos into Cambodia. We started our journey in Don Khon and the owner’s husband from our guesthouse took us in his boat back to Ban Nakasang, where there was a coach waiting for us to take us on the short 15 minute journey to the border. This was a really lovely early morning journey on the Mekong direct from our guesthouse, much better than our journey out to the island.
Once we got to the border we had to take our bags off the bus and walk across the border. Annoyingly we had to pay $1 each to the Laos border guard, the quarantine health official, and the Cambodian border guard!! Think this is the first time I’ve had to bribe an official - but as it’s not an official border crossing you don’t really have much choice!
We walked across the no-man’s land between the two countries and were met by another coach on the Cambodian side. It was then a 3-hour journey to the town of Kratie where we were hoping to get another glance of the rare Irrawaddy dolphins. We got a lot of hassle when we got off the bus in Kratie – partly because we were the only tourists getting off the bus and there were about ten tuk-tuk drivers trying to get us to go and see their guesthouse! In the end we opted for the one that said they had rooms for $7! We also asked the tuk-tuk driver to take us to see the dolphins later in the afternoon.
It was a really nice drive through the countryside and rural villages out to the place where you see the dolphins. All the children were waving to us as we passed and life in the villages looks like it hasn’t changed for centuries with farmers using carts with big wooden wheels pulled by oxen to get about! The dolphin viewing experience was much better than in Laos as they punted the boat quietly out into the river so as not to disturb the dolphins and we were therefore able to get much closer to them. There also seemed to be a lot more dolphins, perhaps because it was late in the afternoon they were all feeding. Unlike other dolphins they seem to prefer hanging out on their own so we didn’t see any big groups and they don’t breach which limits the photo opportunities but it was still great to see them!