Crab and Kampot pepper...

Trip Start Aug 14, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Cambodia  , Krong Kep,
Friday, December 7, 2012

We arrived in Kep after a long 12hrs on buses from Battambang via Phnom Penh (there are very few roads in Cambodia and lots of buses require that you change in Phnom Penh even though it takes hours longer). This time we were blessed not to have terrible music/comedy blasting out of the huge speakers on the bus as it was broken - yey!

We found somewhere to stay and although it wasn't great on first appearances, we couldn't be bothered to trek around what appeared to be a very long stretch of coastline. That night we ate on our guesthouse's veranda and the food was very good although it was also the night for tiny flies to mature and swarm the lights above the tables. We moved twice as they kept falling on us and hundreds kept coming despite the sticky tape the waiters stuck to the lights to catch them. We went to bed hoping they wouldn't be there in the morning. Luckily, they didn't reappear again.

We hired bicycles the next day to get around the town. We headed to the Crab Market first (Kep is famous for it). It was an awesome sight seeing the rich 'SUV' class, on weekend/day trips from Phnom Penh, buying a bag of crabs straight from the crab pots in the sea. There was also fish, shrimp and squid just like you find at all the markets in Cambodia. After watching the haggling and purchasing of seafood, we left and cycled along the coast.

Kep was a very popular vacation destination back in the 1920s when it was a French Colony. During this time, many French villas were built along the coastline and were homes/holiday homes of the rich. However, when the French left at the time of WW 2, the villas were left and remained empty throughout the rule of The Khmer Rouge. Most derelict villas still remain, some squatted by locals, giving the town an eerie empty feeling. It left us wondering what this place would be like if there was no Khmer Rouge (probably a colonial version of Thailand). Instead, they are just starting to redevelop the town: paving roads; building swanky government buildings and hotels; and encouraging more tourism. We were glad to be here at the start of this project and not the end!

After cycling around the derelict villas, we headed back to the beach area where hammocks were provided along with fresh crab and pepper. We were surrounded by the rich Phnom Penh tourists as we ate our fresh crab. We realised we got ripped off though; paying $14 for our lunch rather than buying it at the crab market and taking it there as a picnic, but it was yummy! The rest of the afternoon we spent lazing on the slightly uninspiring beach before cycling to the crab market for a dinner of more crab for a mere $7 for both of us - much more reasonable. It was a bit scary cycling back as the roads are not lit, but we made it back. Outside our guesthouse we found about 100 Cambodian tourists dancing to a band on the stage having had a dinner (a bit like an outside ball). In usual Cambodian style, it was booming. At least it stopped by midnight so we could sleep.

We got up early the next day to get a boat to Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay). Only a handful of families live on the island and several of them provide restaurants and little huts to stay in. We had read that the islands off Cambodia are a little bit like Thailand twenty years ago, which would figure because it's at least that far behind Thailand economically. So we thought we'd stay on this island for a night with basic facilities and electricity for only 2hrs per night. I was planning on getting over my bug/spider/critter fear whilst here as it's almost like sleeping outside! When we arrived at the island, I went off looking for the 'nicest' hut. It turned out they were all the same and cost around $8 (alot considering what you can get elsewhere in the country for that). We dumped our bags in our holey hut and headed for the beach a few steps away. We chilled out on the beach until just before sunset when we thought it was best to shower before it got dark. By this point I was getting a funny feeling in my stomach at the thought of having to sleep there, enhanced by seeing day trippers head back on their boats and thinking they would be sleeping in a sealed room that night. Back in the hut, on the wooden shelf in the shower I noticed something big. I got Shane to check whether it was brown rope or something was the something else! He tried to kill the huge spider (almost the same size as my hand) with his flip flop, but it was too quick (apparently one of those spiders which chase prey rather than spin a web to catch it). Anyway, there was no way I was going back in the bathroom while it was there, and it was hiding. We made a quick decision to try and get a boat back to the mainland by pretending Shane was ill. Luckily we left and didn't have to pay for the 'rustic' hut we never used! I questioned whether my irrational fear was holding me back from these travelling 'experiences,' but I just concluded that I was too westernised and I would much rather sleep without critters sharing the bedroom. No more holey beach huts for us! Our guesthouse had one room left so we ended up having a good nights sleep after all and caught the bus half an hour up the road to Kampot the next morning.
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