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Discovering Cambodia in Kratie

(written by Dave)

First, the bikes are cleaned.  I know that many readers had concerns as to whether we would accomplish this task today.  Well, we did.  And good thing.  Nancy’s rear tire had a nearly blown sidewall and mine had worn through the rubber to the puncture resistant part.  Neither would have failed imminently but new rear tires now grace both bikes (photos below of worn tires for the bike geeks reading this post).  Now (thanks to Ciska of the tandem family) whenever we wash the bikes we also wash our water bottles with Dettol.  The first time we washed them they had major slime growing in them.  Now, every week or so, they are still in need of  a clean.  It really is a wonder that we didn’t get sick from them in the past.

Aside from cleaning the bikes, we did some looking around town.  We got to try out Kratie’s famous korlan.  This is basically sticky rice, beans and coconut milk steamed inside a bamboo tube.  They sell these on many street corners for next to nothing.  They taste pretty good and also do a good job of filling a hole in one’s stomach.

You’ll note in the photo below of the korlan sales lady that it appears that she could be wearing her pajamas (or jimmy-jams as we call them in Australia).  It turns out that if you look further, you’ll see a number of women in photos below dressed in their PJs as well.  We saw this a bit in Stung Treng but even more here today in Kratie.  We think that this is a style or fashion statement.  To me it looks like they’ve just gotten out of bed and couldn’t be bothered to get dressed.  I’m pretty sure that the men of Kratie did not do cartwheels when this became fashion either and I’m happy to report that Nancy made no moves towards any of the PJ vendors in the market area.

Another local sight that caught our eyes was the Kratie tuk-tuk.  Here they take a regular scooter, attach a hitch like device on the seat and connect all sorts of devices to the hitch.  You’ll see a passenger version, along with a heavy load version in the photos below.  We’ve not seen this type of tuk-tuk anywhere in SE Asia and for that mater, had no idea that the humble tuk-tuk would take so many forms as we made our way around the region.

We had brekkie at the gust house (spelled like their sign, see photo below) and lunch at a local cafe.  The cafe was selling a calendar, Men of Kratie, and to our delight, Mr September was our server.  He was handsome, especially in the shirt-less photo in the calendar.  We thought of picking one up for all of our nieces but we have no way to carry them.  They were pretty innocent really, all in good fun with proceeds going to ‘save the dolphin’ funds.

Aside from the waiter excitement at lunch, we had some great meals today.  As you do on a rest day.  Nancy had a happy plate of banana pancakes from brekkie (see photo).. For dinner, we found ourselves back at the guesthouse again where I had a fantastic fried cashews with chicken and Nancy had fish and chips.  Before you give Nancy too bad of time, you should know that the fish was fresh caught Mekong river fish (and with hand cut fries).

This afternoon we finally took time to watch the movie “The Killing Fields”.  We’d seen it years ago but wanted to see it again before we reached Phnom Penh.  It was very good.  Much of the scenery and people reminded us of every day we ride out bike here (or in Laos).  The story is quite sad but has a good ending.  It touches a little of the true history of the conflicts in SE Asia and is good from that perspective.  We also both just finished reading a book call “First they Killed my Father” by Loung Ung.  If you are interested more in the impact of the Khmer Rouge this is a very good book to read.  It also has helped us get perspective on Cambodia.  As a country, they’ve certainly done it hard the last 50 years.  To find that people are so friendly and welcoming is very nice.  They have every right to be a little bitter.

So, tomorrow, with our nice shiny clean bikes we head to Kampong Chan.  It is also a longish ride at around 135ks.  We’ll be up early for brekkie at the guest house before hitting the market for morning tea supplies on the way out town.

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7 responses to “Discovering Cambodia in Kratie

  1. Those clothes look comfortable. There are similar styles in other Asian countries and they are considered fashionable, functional, and culturally appropriate. Maybe these are the same. At any rate, the style seems to be accepted by the folks you are seeing.

    Thanks for the reminders about the cost of living in these countries. It does put a lot into perspective.

  2. I just hate it when your rubber wears out!!!!!!!
    Guys looks like your having an absolute blast, Were almost finished for the year and back in Brisbane by the 23rd, in Sydney now, Goulburn Monday, Newcastle Tuesday, Brisbane Wed, Newcastle thursday and then an 8 day drive back to Brisbane checking out the coast as we go
    Dirk

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