Once a thriving French cargo port on the Mekong river, Kratie is now a rather somnolent, backwater market town, fronted by a pot-holed promenade and ranks of buttress-rooted dipterocarp trees.

Travellers tend to pause here en route to Laos, and for the chance to spot critically endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins – a pale-skinned, slow-moving, beakless cetacean with a bulbous forehead whose numbers have been decimated by gill-net fishing in recent decades. Known as ‘psot’ in Cambodian, they live in nine deep-water pools dotted along a 120-mile (200km) stretch of the Mekong. One such pool lies just north of Kratie, where local fishermen run psot-spotting trips in low-slung canoes and longtail boats.

 

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