So from Pnomh Penh our journey starts to head north and up the Mekong river. Our first stop off being the riverside town of Kratie. We took a boat out onto the river in the hope of spotting the extremely rare Irrawaddy Dolphin. Theres thought to be fewer than 100 left in the wild after overfishing and poaching. After only 10 minutes in the boat we catch our first glimpse of a dorsal fin and a puff of air as they come up to breath. It was pretty exciting as we weren't convinced we would see them at all and they in fact swam around the boat for a full hour before we headed back to the shore. By the sounds of things we were lucky and they might not be around for that many years to come.
After an incredible sunset and a very noisy nights sleep (thanks to building work on the roof starting at 7.00am, Hannah thought she was back in London!) we left for Ratanakiri, a province to the east set amidst deep jungle. It was 100 miles along a dirt track from the main road which was bumpy to say the least, we were just grateful that it didn't rain which apparently means the journey can take up to 9 hours on the slippery road! We stayed at an ecolodge which was in deep forest about 6km out of 'town'. The food was great and the hut we stayed in was comfortable if a little scary when venturing to the toilet at night.
The next day we trekked through the forest to an amazing crater lake formed by a volcano 700,000 years ago. It was clear as a bell, a perfect circle and a very toasty 25 degrees by our reckoning. After swimming all morning we went back and I almost stepped on a scorpion, not sure how much damage it would have done but it didn't look happy (see the photo). The following day was spent visiting the nearby waterfalls in the area. Hannah took a ride on the back of a motorbike while I tried to get the hang of a hired one on my own. The gears certainly took a bit of getting used to, especially when the bike's far too small and you're wearing flip flops but I reckon I've grasped it enough for Hannah and I to go on a few more jaunts when we're in Laos. After getting completely covered in red dust we headed back for another night before continuing our journey north, into Laos.