In Kratie, there is nothing to see but everything to live for.
Kratie is a small town on the banks of the Mekong, along the road from Kompong Cham to Mondulkiri. There are no particular attractions here, except for a few buildings dating back to the French colonial period – and surviving the bombings of the Vietnam War -, and the unforgettable sunsets over the Mekong – the sun here turns red and disappears as it sinks into the waters of this legendary river.
Why, then, stop at Kratie?
The Mekong, an ‘immense and luminous’ river (quoting Tiziano Terzani)
At 4880 kilometres long, the Mekong is Indochina’s longest and most important river and the seventh longest in the world. His journey begins in a difficult-to-access spot on the Tibetan plateau and ends in Vietnam after passing through the Chinese province of Yunnan, Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
It is a legendary river, so dense with a history that if its waters could tell even the immediate past, we would spend hours on its banks. And perhaps, in Kratie, we will.
The Irrawaddy Dolphins
Just north of Kratie, at Kampi, is one of the last colonies of river dolphins (Orcaella brevitrostris), also known as Irrawaddy dolphins. An endangered species, it is estimated that fewer than 50 of these rare cetaceans remain in the area.
Koh Trong Island
Opposite Kratie, in the middle of the Mekong, lies the island of Koh Trong, an expanse of sand about 6-8 kilometres long, dotted with fields, patches of forest, a few grazing cows, traditional houses and, to the south-east, a small Vietnamese fishing village built on stilts. The best thing is to cycle through it, stopping to talk to the locals.
The Kratie area and Koh Trong island are part of the Cambodia 2019 Masterclass programme