We had a sleepless night before going to see the dolphins. The heat was unbearable, and the fan just rotated the hot air around the room. I managed to fall asleep, however Kyle was left wide awake and in a mood….bet he’ll pay for air con in the next place.
The road to the Mekong river was long, but the tuk tuk took us through the smaller communities in Kratie. It was nice to see all the families together, watching one small TV or playing games, laying in hammocks and cooking each other food. Again, all the children ran alongside shouting hello and waving, I am constantly surprised by the friendliness of the people here. Once we arrived at the river, we climbed into a little boat and began our search for the Irrawaddy dolphins. Our driver was great, he knew exactly where to go, and once we got close to a group of dolphins he turned the engine off and tucked the boat out of view in the bushes. It was amazing watching the dolphins swim around and come up for air, our driver even steered us into the middle of a big group of dolphins so that they could swim around us. We were lucky to see the dolphins, as there are only 80 left, this is due to the illegal fishing which takes place at this part of the river.
It was a long hot day, and we returned home to another freshly cooked meal. After which we played more card games with the other teachers, it was during this time that Rith returned home from his evening with his friends. Turns out 3 cans of beer is all it takes for a man in Cambodia to get drunk! Rith was hilarious, telling us about his night and asking if we’d like to go to a karaoke bar, after witnessing Khmer karaoke on the bus we decided against it! After a chat about politics, the craziness of Europe and life in general, we all headed to bed for a much better nights sleep.
We woke early the next day as we wanted to catch a boat to Koh Trong island. As tuk tug’s aren’t readily available, we had to walk to the nearest hotel in order to get one to the ferry port. By the time we got there we were sweating our tits off! Thankfully, they provided us with cold drinks and a cool, wet towel whilst we waited for our tuk tuk to arrive. The “ferry port”, is actually a few planks of wood on barrels, and the “ferry” is actually a little boat, that can comfortably fit about 15 people on board. Ours however, had about 20 people, 2 mopeds, a bucket of ice, 3 large sacks of water and enough food to feed a family of 10 for 6 months. Plus the addition of a new born baby, a family were returning to the island after coming to Kratie to ensure that their baby was safely delivered 2 days ago.
The journey to Koh Trong took around 10 minutes even though it didn’t look that far, I think this may have been due to the current and the amount of cargo on board. Once we arrived on the island, we climbed a dirt path to the bike hut. Now I haven’t ridden a bike for 13 years, and when I have tried it’s been a massive disaster, so I was not looking forward to this at all! However, I surprised myself and Kyle when I just got on the bike and took off, neither of us were expecting that. The ride around the island was brilliant, like the community in Kratie, the families were all working and playing together, stopping what they were doing to wave and say hello as we went by. Two girls got that excited that they nearly knocked Kyle off his bike, chasing him along for a high five, they were adorable. We heard that there was a beach on the island, what this actually turned out to be was a little sandy patch and a somewhat cleaner part of the Mekong so we past on that one. We cycled the 7km around the island and returned our bikes so that we could catch the ferry back…this time there was only us and 3 other people, plus a hedge trimmer!
Once back in Kratie main town we headed to the market. What we loved about this market was the fact that it hadn’t been changed for westerners, in fact there was nothing there for us at all. So we strolled through the stalls selling meat, veg, clothing, spices and shoes and watched the people bartering for better prices. We even treat ourselves to some lychees, my new favourite fruit. It was nice to get out and explore, and Rith was over the moon that we had taken the time to explore his town and meet more people, he really is proud of where he lives.
Whilst eating tea that evening, we noticed many scooters fly by with hospital patients on the back. How did we know that they were patients? The fact that they had drips hanging off bamboo sticks kind of gave it away! The only explanation that I could come up with is, that they must go home to visit, rather than having visitors at the hospital.
That evening was hot once again, and we sat through too many power cuts! The most inconvenient of which was at bed time. This resulted in Kyle, getting himself wound up, pacing back and forth, and walking inside and out…making himself even hotter. Not much sleep was had by anyone, to great when we had work the next day.
Monday morning was mainly spent lesson planning, and watching Inside Out with Tola and Vita, she finally comes to play now but still doesn’t speak. The afternoons class was a continuation of geography, it actually went a lot better than Friday, and they were able to fill in their factsheets on Cambodia, though the famous people section ended up being filled with their favourite drinks…not quite sure how that happened.
All 6 of us teachers spent the evening praying for rain, to allow a more comfortable nights sleep. We were over the moon when a storm came and the heavens opened, though I don’t think Rith and his family were too happy with the downpour. Vietnam must have been on all the ball too, though we had many power cuts in the night non of them lasted longer than 10 minutes! Kyle even slept under a blanket, so it must have been cold!
The next morning we planned our final lesson, Story telling. It went down a treat, the children have amazing imaginations and they wrote stories about superheroes, monkeys, poop man and bananas. The Mother of the Korean children, blessed us for our help and the children wished us luck on our adventures. Even though it has been challenging at times I have really enjoyed my time at the school, and with Rith’s family. It has allowed us to gain new experiences, and live the life of Khmer people, I feely truly lucky and grateful. It will be a sad goodbye this evening, but we hope to stay in touch and follow the progress of the children and the school. I think Kyle will be upset when he says bye to his shadow, Tola!
We took a walk after class to pick up snacks for tomorrow. Again walking round the village we were met with, "hello" and "what's your name". I have loved the vibe in Kratie and the friendliness of the locals, though one old lady took it too far when she flashed us some boob for buying onion rings from her store!
Tonight will be our final meal, before packing our cases in the hottest room I’ve ever experienced. (Unfortunately, it hasn’t rained so tonight will be hot). In the morning we will catch a local mini bus, which I’m not looking forward to, to Sen Monorom. Here we will go on a trek to visit the elephants, and I am buzzing! I don’t think I’ll get much sleep until Thursday night I’m that excited!!
Love Carrie xxx