Kratie province

December 5, 2008 at 9:07 pm 1 comment

(an apology to all those whose emails are unanwered. i’ll write soon!)

    The organization i’m volunteering with arranged a trip to Kratie province, one of the destinations of their conservation efforts. All the volunteers and a few additionals went. The bus ride from Phnom Penh was about 6 hours, and i began the day with 2 hours of sleep and irritation at having to leave the house by 6:30 instead of 7am. “But the bus doesn’t leave until 7:45, why are we going so early…” i whined all the way.

    The ride to Kratie wasn’t bad. The bus was air-conditioned, but i preferred the breeze and kept sliding open my window, much to the kind dismay of the bus employee who walked down the isle now and again closing it shut.

    In Kratie we stayed in a hotel. I didn’t like this hotel. It’s bright orange exterior was suggestive of cleanliness and order, but this was a deception. It was huge, with leaky faucets, and an aura of depravation that engulfed you as soon as you entered your room.

    We visited the base of the project, watched a documentary on Irrawaddy dolphins, and discussed the projects in the villages. Despite his efforts, i could hardly stay awake and listen to the director’s speech. Had i a notebook i would have been doodling flowers. Since i had none, i dozed off, waking up periodically with swift jerks of the head. I wasn’t the only one.

We saw a beautiful sunset being swallowed up by the great Mekong but like most Cambodian landscapes it was littered with trash. yel-001


    The next day was more exciting. We drove an hour north in a van. Unfortunately the planning committee underestimated our sizes, and loaded 20 of us into a van Cambodian style. I sat with one buttcheek on the seat and the other off to the side. My poor leg threatened to abondon me as it went numb.

    After an hour we transferred to a boat and 20 minutes later we reached our homestay location. After lunch we marched on to the school, where we donated writing supplies to some 150 students. What is funny is that Thursdays are not school days for the kids. They have Thursdays and Sundays off. So they rounded up the school children from the surrounding villages and marched them off into the school yard.

They seated some of the primary school students in the classroom…. yel-003

Before they were led outside where they stood in the sun waiting for notebooks and pens. The students to my right are 7-10 years old despite looking like 5 year olds.yel-006

 Most of the children wore their school uniforms. yel-004 
Volunteers playing with very enthusiastic children.yel-007


    Afterwards, we went by boat in search of Irrawady dolphins. Even though it’s dry season and supposedly it should be easier to see them, we didn’t see any. Two months ago when i was in Laos, i saw them in Si Phon Don (4thousand islands). We had rented a boat and took it towards Cambodia’s coast. I wasn’t wearing glasses and could hardly see the gray figures in the distance. Later we waited in the river with the motor turned off and i saw a dolphin 15 meters away from me =)    After the unsuccessful dolphin observation we visited another village where CRDT does work.

In the background is a structure that collects rainwater and makes using it easier.yel-008

This respected elder is displaying a stove that works through gas produced by a bio-converter (sponsored by the CRDT). Bio-converters use animal dung to produce fuel which is then delivered to the stove unit and the light fixture in the home. This is far better than using wood because it doesn’t produce smoke and air pollution, is basically free, and makes cooking less time consuming because wood doesn’t need to be gathered daily and the fire maintained.yel-009


At night there was a party and we danced barefoot with the children to Cambodian pop tunes.



ps.   Unfortunately when i arrived in Cambodia from Vietnam i applied for a tourist visa instead of a business one. Tourist visas can only be extended only once; business visas can be extended indefinetely. Since i’m staying a minimum of 3 months, i need the latter. So tomorrow morning i’m going to Thailand because the only way to get this visa is to leave and re-enter Cambodia. So 7+ hours of bus to get to Hat Lek and be scammed by corrupt Cambodian officials, followed by an overnight and 7+ hours back to Phnom Penh. Stress i love you! Stories like this one are very very common.


Entry filed under: travel. Tags: , .

volunteering Visa run

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Dina  |  December 8, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Nice pictures and the text also.


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