Kickin back in Kampot

Trip Start Jan 12, 2013
Trip End Feb 27, 2013

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Flag of Cambodia  , Khétt Kâmpôt,
Monday, January 21, 2013

I arrived in Kampot today after leaving Sihanoukville at 8 this morning.  My faithful traveling companion Brian decided to stay on the island with his other friends.  Perhaps we will cross paths again, but it was definitely time for me to move on.  Manuervering with a group of 4 or more was just too unwieldy. Kampot has been a pleasant contrast to sleezy Sihanoukville.  I think I prefer the sleepy smaller towns.  Sunburn plus not enough sleep created a very lethargic Jasmine today.  I basically got accommodation--which I'm splurging for $15 tonight and have air-con, TV, soap, toilet paper, and an actual flushing toilet.  To be honest, I'm not sure what to do with all these amenities!  Then, ate lunch, took a nap, walked around the town, had 2 for 1 happy hour drinks, then moved on for bedtime.  What an exciting day!  haha

I met a French Canadian from Montreal that I walked with after getting off the minibus this morning.  We had lunch and dinner together.  The funny thing is, we did not plan it.  Simply wandering around, you bump into people you've already met.  I went for drinks at a recommended restaurant and there he was!   The more I talk with these Canadians, the more Canada's vacation scheme looks like a great deal.  In the first year of work, everyone gets 4 weeks of vacation. FOUR weeks!!!  Then, he works overtime and instead of taking the money, banks the time.  Finally, he works for 75% of salary for a year and then takes the other non-paid salary and turns it into time off...which gives him 6 months to travel every two years.  This dude literally travels 6 months out of every 2 years----all while still getting paid because it is vacation he's 'earned'.  My god.   Of course, he's worked for the same company for almost 30 years and worked up to these 'perks'.  But still!

The town of Kampot is very interesting.  It retains much of the French architecture from the colonization period.  The most intriguing site (though perhaps difficult to appreciate from pictures) is the old French bridge that was destroyed during the Khmer Rouge's rise to power.  They 'repaired' it over time via a completely undirected plan.  Obviously going to collapse at any moment.  I don't think it's ever a good idea to 'wedge' your girders between exposed pieces of reebar from a previous bombed section.  Yeah, wedged.  It's not even one must drive up and down ramps as you traverse the various 'sections'.  I got to really feel the loveliness of the roads this morning in the minibus.  For some reason, paving 200 meters of road, then stopping for 200 meters before resuming the pavement was the way to go.  Makes for quite the rough transitions.  In the one place you actually need seatbelts to hold you in, there are none.  It's like an amusement park ride...I need a shoulder harness, but no, you flop around like a rag doll trying to crack a head.  I heard the road north from Siem Reap to Laos is even worse.  Takes hours to go something like 50 miles....average 20 mph.  Awesome. Can't wait. 

I told my new friend about the reason I came to Kampot--Bokor Hill Station---a old French outpost built in the 1920's on the mountain top near here that has been abandoned.  That's right, my friends, abandoned hotel, Catholic church, and other buildings at 3000 ft which become enshrouded in mist and fog on cool days.  Apparently, the cool weather has encouraged the growth of lichens which happen to be orange so the whole place is made even more eerie with the orange glow.  Is my excitement palpable??  What could be better?  Oh yeah, the fact that the Khmer Rouge used it as their outpost during the revolution and so there are bullet holes as well!   We are renting motorbikes tomorrow and going there.  I am flippin stoked!!! 
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