Ride day 48: Stung Treng to Kratie
20 August 2016
Despite the amazingly tranquil surroundings, Tracey unfortunately slept very badly. It had been a very hot night, and the fan in the room could only do so much to try and alleviate the heat. Added to this, the boats were active on the river from very very early, making it an early start for us.
Breakfast at the Mekong Bird managed to set us up nicely for the day. Again we had the deck to ourselves, and had a delicious breakfast of crepes by the side of the Mekong. After breakfast we spent a bit of time chatting to the French owner, who gave us a fresh Papaya from his garden, which we ate on our cabin’s deck whilst packing up.
I spent half an hour tweaking the bikes before setting off up the gravel track back to the main road.
The road south towards Kratie was both busy and remarkably bumpy. We were trying to keep up a fast pace in a bid to outrun the showers that were looming. We caught the edge of a few downpours, but somehow managed to skirt the main rains. At one point whilst in a dash to beat a rainstorm we spotted cops at the side of the road. As we got closer they raised their hand. We both kept on riding through, and a few km further along both agreed that we had assumed they were waving. Did they wave…? Or did they want us to stop? We will never know!
At the 75 km mark we pass the turn off towards the river, however the track looks very bumpy and with big puddles, so we opt to head further south before heading along river.
The ride for the day was quite fast despite the bumps and some slow trucks. The road is also full of minibuses with heavy wood hanging out of back, and scooters piled up with heavy wood on the back. Along the roadside are rubber plantations in varying levels of maturity, with most of the native hardwoods chopped down. The wood carving and furniture along the roadside are testament to where they have gone.
When we reach the next turn off towards the river, it’s actually signposted to Kratie. This road is amazingly even bumpier than what has gone before. The road swings in alongside the river with occasional glimpses between huts of the very wide brown Mekong. We pass a couple of backpackers on a scooter which tells us we are getting back on the beaten track.
As we get in to town we do a quick loop and then pick a cafe for lunch and a beer. After two beers we decide to check in to the same place – US $12 a night but got $1 off as no TV.
No sooner are we in to the room than there’s a power cut, so we head out for a walk around market and along the river. There are lots of kids about playing around, and also a fair few shops that appear to be doctors / pharmacies with beds of people on intravenous drips.
At the corner of the market there are two busy bbq fish and meat stalls. We pick a cafe for dinner that’s right at the corner to watch the world go by. The sights and sounds of the market, a small innocuous scooter crash, and locals with dogs on scooters.
After dinner and a few beers we head home for the night; and for a series of more power cuts, and noises of generators kicking in.
Full days route here: