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Written on: Sunday January 6th, 2008

A journal entry from: Around The World Without A Plane

A much longer stay here in the northern, quiet town of Kratie then we expected, down to the fact both of us neglected to take any money out in Phnom Penh and there not being any way to get any money between here and Vientiane, the capital of Laos, a good five days travel away. We thought we had it all worked out, and that we?d just use the Western Union bank in town to draw money on our credit cards, but that bodged up too when a) the bank didn?t accept credit cards and b) it was Sunday and wouldn?t again be opened until Tuesday as it was a National holiday in Cambodia to mark Cambodian Independence after the fall of the Khmer Rouge.

Clutching at straws we instead decided to jump on the back of a couple of motos and take a drive 20 odd kilometers north to jump on a boat out on to the mighty Mekong and catch a glimpse of the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins, that are unique to living in the fresh waters of the Mekong, between here and Burma. Starting out it seemed just me, Dave and our driver would be the only ones on the river. Then, upon the first glimpse of the dolphins, as if from nowhere a squalor of boats appeared at either side of us armed with vivacious, picture hungry tourists, with cameras raised to the eye, ready to shoot on sight at the friendly, jaunty mammal. As our driver didn?t want us to miss out we took rapid pursuit too, opening out the throttle of the boat to keep up with the other five at our sides. It really did feel like we were hunting the poor creatures. We eventually cut the motor and allowed ourselves to drift further away from the other boats and reaped the rewards, as just in front of our boat cane swimming leisurely by, without a care in the world (other than the 6 boats that had been chasing them around for the past half an hour) 2 of the dolphins. 

Grinning at us hopefully our driver then offered to take us for ac couple of dollars up through the rapids of the Mekong where there was a small waterfall, which gladly we agreed on and sped off to pitch up at the side of a rock in the middle of one of the biggest rivers in the world, and catch the dwindling of another day, as the sun ebbed below the horizon. What was even more captivating was that we both almost fell in climbing on the rocks.

Back at the town deciding what to do with our last 30 dollars between us, whether to go the 6 hours back to Phnom Penh where the nearest ATM?s were, or get a job in the ass-end of nowhere in Cambodia, Dave came along the ingenious idea of sending ourselves money through Western Union and picking it up on the Tuesday morning before catching a bus up to the Lao border soon after. And that?s exactly what we did.