Existing Member?

My new life begins at LAX a journal of my 3 months living and working in Phnom Penh, and beyond.

CRDT/Trip to Kratie

CAMBODIA | Sunday, 8 June 2008 | Views [3297] | Comments [4]

Mekong Island House

Mekong Island House

I just got back from Kratie (a rural part of Central Cambodia). I went there with the other volunteers, we went to see who was benefiting from our volunteering. CWF was formed to support a NGO in rural Cambodia called the Cambodian Rural Development Team (CRDT). CRDT’s focus is sustainable development for the people of rural Cambodia. So the money that the school I work for makes will be donated to CRDT.

We took a bus to Kratie from Phnom Penh on Wednesday, it was about a 6 hour ride. Had a few stops along the way, including on to the place where the people eat spiders and grasshoppers. I had already tried a grasshopper (like a garlic fry with legs), so this time I tried a roasted frog (surprisingly tasty). I’m still a little hesitant about the spiders, they look like deep fried tarantulas. I never noticed this before but the women selling them also had a bucket of live spiders for people who wanted to cook them at their homes. I was staring at the live ones when one of the vendors put one on my shirt, it crawled up towards my neck before I knocked it off. Apparently they don’t bite but it still creeped me out.

When we got to Kratie, we went to CRDT office and were given a presentation of the work they are doing by Sochia who would be our guide for the rest of the trip. The next day we took a boat to a small island in the Mekong River to see first hand some of the work that CRDT is doing. CRDT had helped the locals build chicken pens, frog and fish ponds. The reason than CRDT was giving them alternatives to fishing is because the area of the river where the island is located is a near a dolphin pool and net fishing is prohibited. There are less than 100 hundred fresh water dolphins in all of Cambodia and they are severely endangered. Another project that CRDT is working on is sanitation and fresh water supply. They have helped install a number of toilets and water pumps on the island. The most impressive project I saw on the island was the biodigester project. They helped to build underground biodigesters, that the locals would put all their animal manure inside the biodegesters underground chamber (side note: When Sochia showed us the biodigester he said “You put cow shit, horse shit, chicken shit, inside.”, shit was the only word he knew for poop) and it would convert the manure in to gas that could be used for cooking and lighting. It was pretty cool to see it first hand. Most people burn wood for cooking, and there is a problem with deforestation. The house we visited had a gas stove top that was powered by the biodigester they also had a lantern that was powered by the biodigesters gas. CRDT wouldn’t simply give the families these things, they would show them how to make it, the families had to supply some of the materials and all of the labor. CRDT’s hope is that when they leave Kratie and go to another part of Cambodia, the locals will continue the practices that CRDT taught them.

After our tour of the island, we stopped at one house where the cooked a delicious lunch for us. Nev one of the volunteers from Australia brought a bottle of Port and we drank it with the locals. The men loved it, the women weren’t so into it. We rested a bit and then took a boat out on the Mekong and looked for the Dolphins. I had been to Kratie before on my second visit to Cambodia and saw several of the Dolphins. Apparently they are much harder to find in the rainy season than in the dry because they branch of their pools. We didn’t see any dolphins, although Sopheap claims she saw one (I still don’t believe her).

Went back to the village, bathed in the traditional way(a bucket and water) and then had some dinner. The island was beautiful. It was tiny they were only a handful of motos on the island, most people rode bikes or walked, the air was really nice and the when it got dark, there was so many stars in the sky. It’s hard to imagine living your whole life in a place like that.

We decided to throw the village a party while we were here. For $20 we were able to rent a music system with massive speakers and a generator. It was all set up at the school and at 8:00 when the island was pitch dark the bass started thumping. All the locals came out, at first everyone just stood around and watched and nobody would dance. After an hour or so people started to loosen up. The party went on till Midnight and it was a blast, I think the locals really enjoyed themselves. They did both traditional Khmer dancing and Western style hip hop dancing.

After the party we slept at some of the locals house, on bamboo mats on the hard wood floor under mesquito nets. It was hard to get to sleep  even harder to stay asleep and as soon as the roosters started making noise I was up.

We spent the majority of the next day in transit back to Phnom Penh. The bus ride wasn’t very comfortable but it was just beautiful. Seeing all the rice field, palm trees, water buffaloes, the geometrical rubber plantations and rich red soil that could grow just about anything. It made me think forward to the bike trip I will be taking through the country side in a couple of months. Can’t hardly wait.



This is great! Don't send me any spiders to eat.


  Mom Jun 8, 2008 10:54 PM


Wonderful all the work of CRDT for try to make this world one better place!

you are a beautiful human being!


  Marlene Jun 9, 2008 4:18 PM


Wow! This sounds amazing! maybe I need to figure out a way to give Byron the boot and head to somewhere a little more...real! I'm so jealous!

  Kelsey Jun 24, 2008 8:43 PM


I was in Kratie for a few years from 1962 as a member of Care-Medico (Dr. Tom Dooley). You must have had a wonderful trip. Wish I could go back.

  Brian Bullock, M.D. Sep 30, 2009 8:26 AM



Travel Answers about Cambodia

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.