Chilling by the river in Kampot

Trip Start Apr 12, 2011
Trip End Apr 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
Olly's Place

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Friday, February 17, 2012

We arrived at 10.30am broken people having had very little sleep. Lucky for us Kampot is a very sleepy place on the river, perfect for relaxation (also as there isn't much else there). We’re in Kampot in an effort to get off the main tourist trail and see some of Cambodia that isn’t only tourist focussed.  We’re staying at Olly’s Place which is on the river and we have a rather basic but sufficient hut - it has bamboo walls and a thatched roof.  After our interesting 'sleeping bus’ journey, the first thing we need is breakfast and then recover by swimming in the river, trying to master paddle boarding and hanging out.  Later on we head into the town for a wander, which has the remains of French architecture but this area was badly hit in the fighting when Vietnam invaded Cambodia to oust Khmer Rouge and so nothing still has the same grandeur.  After a quick walk around we realise we have seen the sights and so head to a bar to enjoy happy hour.  During this time, a downpour starts and so we are stuck there for the rest of the nights hoping our thatched roof holds out the rain.  It turned out into a fun night because they had live music in the form of an older US musician playing blues music.  He sang for a while before letting a young Cambodian sing as well who was very talented, plus we got to hear some Cambodian music.  Plus the bar served Chilean wine so we were more than happy.  And we got back to our hut to find that it held the rain out pretty well.

Next day we hire a tuk tuk driver to take us to Kep which is the seaside holiday resort for Cambodians and well known for it’s fresh crab and Kampot pepper.  It was interesting to pass through the countryside to shouts and waves from the school children and to see a whole area that is not dependent on tourism.  There are cows, chickens and all sorts strolling across the roads and the journey passes quickly.  Our first stop is at a pepper plantation (apparently Kampot pepper is known world-wide).  We see that pepper is grown on vines and the colour depends on when they pick it, they produce green, red, yellow and black pepper.  Green pepper is known in the area as it is only used for cooking and is used fresh off the vines.  We also get to see the durian fruit growing which is well known for its bad smell of rotten eggs mixed with something that died, so much so that it is now banned from hand luggage in airplanes.  I’m sure I’ve tasted it before and it you can get past the smell it’s edible but not great.  When we get to Kep we pass many big old abandoned French colonial buildings, again this area was deserted when fighting intensified and the Khmer Rouge based themselves in the surrounding area.  Its strange to see such a grand buildings derelict now and local families have started using what remains as shelters.  We have a walk along the beach and then on to the crab market where a few local women are pushing and shoving trying to get the best crabs as they are brought it – I imagine they are arguing over price as well.  It brings a buzz to the market.  Then we go for lunch where we had crab with fresh green pepper and squid in coconut sauce.  Neither of us have had to deal with crab in the shell before and so it took some getting used to, trying to pry out the meat.  It was very tasty but I’m not sure I like having to work that hard for my dinner! The squid was very fresh and tasty, I think squid will be forever ruined for us as it’s so fresh here we’ve got fussy. Our final stop is at the White Elephant Cave which I really think they should take out of the guidebook.  First a local guide offers to take us to the cave to see a rock that may vaguely be shaped like an elephant, then we have to give ‘donations’ as someone has stuck a buddha in the cave.  There were then subsequent donations at the bat cave and the temple which we declined to make as we were pretty sure our local guide was emptying the donations after we gave them.  In the end we gave them a couple dollars and told them that’s all we have, at which point they asked for $5 more.  $5 for ten minutes work, I don’t think so.

Back at Olly’s Place we had a go on the paddle boards again, easy enough on a river, next test is the sea and spent the evening relaxing there chatting to other guests.   
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