We arrived at the boat area and headed down to the flotilla. Four or five to a boat so our little group split and I did my boating with a French couple and Jens and Christian from our group.
It was just a short little trip out to the main feeding grounds of the dolphins. Once we were there the driver cut the engine and tied up to some twigs and there we sat, listening to the river and the frequent exhale of breath and water as the dolphins surfaced. Absolutely relaxing and soul replenishing. The dolphins usually surfaced in groups of two or three--it was extremely tricky to get a picture of them although I did my best for all of you. They came up quite close to the boat though and we were able to see them fairly clearly. Beautiful animals that look more like a small whale with their rounded heads than the bottlenose dolphin. According to the tickets we got for the boats there are only about 100 Mekong Rivery Irrawaddy Dolphins left in the world. They feed primarily in these two deep-water pools, usually around 25 at a time can be found at one of those areas.
We stayed out with the dolphins for around two hours, and then headed in right as the sun was beginning to get a bit lower. One of our group had the brilliant idea of heading up to Wat Sampot, at the top of the hill seen in the first of the pictures below to watch the sun set. So we took our motos up to the wat. The picture of the tall statute is at the base of the first set of stairs to the top. There were three similar sets of steps, and I quickly realized how out of shape I've gotten sitting at the office! Also at the base, our moto drivers set up a card game while they waited for us, and I found myself a horse.
The hike up was well worth it, as once we got to the top we had incredible views all around of the fields and Mekong. The sun set up there was rather nice as well. We went down while we still had a little light and watched the end of the sunset as we went back on our motos along the river. We ended our evening with some dinner at a nice little restaurant on the river and then sat on the rooftop terrace of our hotel.
This morning we got up, had a bit of a look around the town, and then headed home on the bus again. The last picture here is of a field with what we think is a hay pile (just for Cece, reminded me of the stacks) and some cows--much like the one that tried to kill us. So, overall it was a terrific getaway, and I think I might get myself a cart and pony, a kayak in which I can commune with the dolphins, and move on up to Kratie. Or I'll just come home to Idaho :-)