Pool And Pepper

Trip Start Feb 25, 2012
Trip End Feb 25, 2015

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Day 553  This morning Lee booked a bus and was gone by ten. Now we are really the only ones here besides the staff!!!! I was in the pool before breakfast!!! Kampot Province is known for having some of the best pepper in the world. Not bell peppers but pepper corns, apparently thought after by high class chefs. Visiting a pepper farm is one of the few things to do in this area aside from the crab market and a few limestone caves. We had Mr. Vunthy come pick us up and take us out to one of said pepper farms. After the three kilometers of paved road that stretch through town we were back on the dirt roads. We meandered through farmland and the country side for a half hour or so before pulling up to the pepper farm.
Purchased by an older German man (who brought the internet to Cambodia) and his Khmer wife just a few months ago, the place was a small operation. He gave us a rundown of how pepper is grown, harvested and the expansion they were undertaking. Pepper grows on vines like tiny grapes, that climb the height of the twelve foot stakes they are planted beside. It takes four years before you can harvest off a plant, then its harvested numerous times for six months out of the year. Pepper is not native to this region so it has to be shielded from the sun to an extent. Pepper is harvested before it is fully mature so its green, then turns the black you see in the grinders just by drying out. Red pepper (which we never seen before) is all the fully matured pepper at harvest time. All the pepper is tediously hand sorted! White pepper is made by soaking red ones then taking off the skin. These two are pretty rare, only producing a few kilos per farm per year as it is more difficult to harvest fully mature pepper.  When compared to the usual black and even the white the red's aroma is worlds apart with having kind of a raisin like fruity aroma and one hell of a kick when it comes to taste.
It was still early in the day when we left the farm so we got Mr. Vunthy to take us to one of the limestone caves. This was by far the smallest and least tourist developed caves we have seen. If it wasn't for the awesome panoramic view of Kep, the gulf and a few Vietnamese islands in the gulf, it would not have been worth the trip. The almost neon green rice paddocks stretched in a quilt like pattern almost to the water. Inside a few Buddhist shrines occupied the caves near the entrance. A local "tour guide" who spoke maybe ten words of English led us around but we were not able to go deep in the caves.
On the way back to our resort we stopped off at the crab market for some take away lunch. Not realizing how many we'd get, we bought a kilo of crab for five bucks. The crabs were so fresh, the lady went into the ocean to get them for us, before cooking them on the spot. As a side dish we bought some sticky rice and for dessert it was waffles. When we got back to the resort we opened the bag to find seven fair sized crabs. We could only muster down five and gave the rest to the hotel staff.
The rest of the day we swam around in the pool and enjoyed the sunset with a bottle of vine that night.
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