Chill-Out time in Bodhi Villa

Trip Start Mar 18, 2009
Trip End Jan 12, 2010

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Finally we have got to a point in the holiday that I have been looking forward to for months. A lovely guy I used to work with, James Watts, lent me his journal from his own adventures around Southeast Asia and his number 1 tip was Bodhi Villa in Kampot, for the ultimate chill-out experience.

We got the bus from Kep to Kampot – this was an experience in itself as the bus was coming from Phnom Penh and we only had a vague idea when it would pass the bungalows. We stood outside from 11am and after half an hour a bus came, we flagged it down, made sure it was going to Kampot and hopped in. It only took around 30 minutes to arrive in the bus station ($1.50 each) and from there Paul secured us a tuk-tuk ($2) to take us 2km up river to Bodhi Villa. Paul's getting quite good at singling out tuk-tuk drivers and making deals when we get off buses. As soon as you've made a deal the others back off – but it's still a little overwhelming when you first arrive!

At Bodhi we were shown to our $8 a night bungalow and I have to admit I was a little disappointed, after all these months I'd let my expectations grow, the bungalow only had 3 walls and the front was open onto a pond – which I was sure was home to many snakes and mosquitoes (Paul didn't mention in his blog entry that we'd seen little snakes in a pond in Kep – I have a real fear of snakes!). Nevertheless I sucked up my fear, walked back over the bamboo bridge over the pond and we went to have lunch in the bar, which overlooks the calm waters of the river. The food was great and we had a couple of beers watching the fish beneath our dangling feet in the water below.

There was a group of girls from France, Belgium and Canada all speaking French and we joined up with them to hire a boat to go up to the rapids – one of Kampots main attractions. The journey up river was very peaceful, along with the ever more familiar cries of 'Hello' from kids on the bank, coupled with frantic waving. We had to walk through a wood and across some rocks to make it to the rapids, which we didn't mind – we quite like a challenge, but the French girls didn't seem too chuffed at having to work for the view. The rapids were actually more like a few rocks in the river; Paul and I perched on a rock and cooled our feet in the water. The girls grumbled some more on the journey back. I didn't let on that I spoke French and had a brilliant 30 mins listening in – guilty pleasures ! Back at Bodhi they argued that the trip wasn't worth $7 each, they would only pay $5, and they forced the trip organiser to concede, which suited us fine !

By this time the ex-pat crowd had arrived from Phnom Penh and although one British guy was nice and chatty, they were a self-contained group not really interested in common travelers – they had come to get incredibly drunk. The bar-man showed us to an upstairs room with a pool table, the last time Paul and I played pool was in Hue in Vietnam and I'd got cross as the balls never go where I think they will. Paul spent a couple of hours teaching me over our weekend in Kampot and I'm pleased to say I actually enjoy it now – although playing in front of an audience might be a different story.

Sunday June 14th Day two.
On Sunday we hired two bicycles and rode off into Kampot town. There's not much to see apart from a market and an amazing old bridge, rebuilt in several different styles. We found Orchid Tours and booked seats on a minibus to Sihanoukville for the following day ($7 each) and then set off on a cycle ride through the hills along the river. Again loads of kids waved and shouted hello.

Back in bodhi Villa we watched the sun set and had a relaxing evening, although I have to admit I'd expected a different atmosphere. The ex-pats made it feel a little unwelcoming and we had hoped for more of a hostel feel, meeting fellow travelers to swap stories with. The webisite had promised water-sports and tubing, but we arrived to find the speed boat broken down and not many tour options apart from visits to caves, which didn't really interest us. James had told me they were going to build a human catapult, but apparently their efforts had failed. I think Bodhi used to be a cool hangout for travelers, but now it's been taken over by the weekend ex-pats. Our tip if you go – take insect repellent and avoid weekends ! There are lots of volunteer opportunities in Kampot which were very tempting, including teaching English, music and
playing football with kids.
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Where I stayed
Bodhi Villa
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rfbevis on

mini rapids
You must remember crossing the rapids on the river Tarn with David and Vicki...these ones look as big!

Will tell you a tale of a snake next time we chat!

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