So I spent the day today visiting the freshwater dolphins of Kratie. It was pretty cool. I rented a motorcycle with an English guy and a Swiss girl and we headed towards the place where the dolphins were. Once we got there, we negotiated for a boat and then went out on the water for an hour and a half. Our driver motored out to the dolphins and then we just watched as they came up for air. It was really cool. Even more cool was watching all the people farming and selling stuff and the little kids playing on the side of the dirt road. The dolphin area was outside of the town and everyone just lives on the side of the road. When you drive by, all the little kids look up, smile and wave while yelling “HELLO!” over and over. It’s hard not to have a huge smile on your face the whole time. The area here is pretty tropical. There are palms and banana trees everywhere and the houses are like something out of a movie (sticks and straw). The little kids ride around on bikes about 2 times their own size (they can’t sit on the seat, just the support bar below) and old men drive by on horse drawn buggies. You really have to see it to believe it. The differences between here and Vietnam are big. Cambodian tourism isn’t nearly as developed and there are just pocketed tourist areas in any given town. People generally don’t overcharge you and everyone smiles and waves as you go by. Buddhist monks are everywhere, most visible by their fluorescent orange robes and there aren’t nearly as many kids begging in the streets. As I mentioned, the architecture is incredible and although you can see the French influence, it is something all in its own. The writing is not western at all and it all looks like a bunch of squiggles. One interesting thing here is that Cambodia has quite a bit more Indian influence than do most other countries. It was historically the country that everyone had to go through for trade (overland) from India and that is why they are predominantly Buddhist. I imagine the writing and architecture was influenced as well. On all menus, you will usually find a few curry dishes also. Many old people still speak French here, but that is something of the past. A surprising number of people can speak English (less than in Vietnam though) for it being such a poor country. But it is indeed a poor country and will probably remain so. I imagine that in a few years, many of the places I have visited here will be just like in Vietnam – with tons of people and very aggressive locals vying for your money. Oh well, that’s how it goes…

So I leave for Laos tomorrow. I will take a boat up the Mekong River and then transfer to another boat to the border and then try to figure something out from there. It’s not entirely certain that I’ll be able to cross at this certain border crossing due to the fact that it’s not on the main tourist route, so I hope I am able to.

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