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Kampot & Kep

We were getting picked up from the bungalows we were staying at in Otres at 10am to go to Kampot by bus. They also picked another person up from the same place but he wasn’t supposed to be leaving for another hour so we had to wait for him until he finished having a shower and packing up before the bus could ‘set off’. It soon became apparent that half of the people on the bus were coming from Kampot to here and the other half (us included) were being picked up to go to Kampot.

The bus (mini-van) was filled to the max, then went to their central office in Sihanoukville, at which point they asked us to get off and the bus immediately sped off with all of our bags in it and no explanation as to where it was going. After a couple of minutes it transpired the bus driver was going to get the tyre replaced on the bus, we weren’t very happy they had taken our bags, buy 15-20 minutes later he re-appeared, we all piled back in the tiny van and it set off. At which point, after one hour and twenty minutes since we were picked up, the bus then drove the same way back straight past where they had picked us up from earlier on.

To say I wasn’t very happy would be an understatement, but apparently the only qualification you need to run a bus company in Asia is to just own a bus (or a minivan) 🙂

Two or three hours later we arrived in Kampot and the first impressions were good, the place we stayed was a nice and homely guesthouse owned by a french couple, it had a really nice garden area with hammocks to lounge around in, the town was westernised in the sense that there were plenty of ex-pats there, but it was just a small town, with still quite a local feel. The guesthouse was about 15 minutes walk out of the centre through a local residential area, so walking past all the dogs guarding their houses at night using the phone torch as a street light was quite fun, there was lots of barking (and the dogs made a lot of noise too).

We could tell it was a fairly rural location when one day we walked back to the guesthouse and there were three cows just wandering past the entrance of it.

We stayed in Kampot for a few days, but for one night we got a scooter through the place we stayed and took off to an even smaller town close by called Kep, it was only 30-40 minutes ride away on a mostly smooth road so it was quite a nice drive, but super hot. This actually only happened after the first bike that we had beek given broke down about 500 metres from the guesthouse, so I had to push it back in 35 degree heat, I don’t think I’ve ever sweated that much before. The bike got replaced and we set off soon enough.

Kep is famous for having a local crab market, so we went and found a place to stay before heading straight there, the first place we tried was too expensive, the next one was really nice, the owner was really friendly and it was all hand-made wooden stilt-bungalows, so we dumped our small bags that we had taken with us in the room and set off in search of fresh seafood.

Sure enough, ten minutes ride away was the local crab market, an amazing market right by the seafront, where we walked in and were taken straight to the front so that we could buy crabs to eat there and then. We paid $4 for half a kilo of crabs, they pulled the cage in from the sea, grabbed a few still-alive crabs and threw them in a carrier bag, next they were passed to one of the other stalls where we paid $1.5 for them to wok them for us with the local Kampot pepper and sauce, we then bought some steamed rice from another vendor and a drink from another, and sat and waited extremely excited for the fresh crabs to come.

They were just as good as you would expect, but better, so fresh and very tasty, and $6 for a meal for two people in Cambodia is actually relatively cheap, but for fresh seafood, it was a bargain. We then rode down to the local beach, got chatting to a local family who offered us to sit with them and drink their beer, but I was driving so thought we better not. The rest of the afternoon we lounged about in the guesthouse with a couple of beers and had some dinner before a bottle of wine on the balcony of our bungalow, it was an amazing day in Kep, the town was the only one in Cambodia we went to that didn’t have lots of foreigners there, it was quiet, relaxed and a great place to spend a night.

The next day we considered going over to Rabbit Island, a nearby island to Kep, but we rode down to the pier early and the cost of the boat was just too much to only spend a couple of hours there before having to come back and ride back to Kampot. Instead we took the nice coast road again and saw some wild Monkeys playing in the road, which we have a video of, then headed back to Kampot.

Kampot is famous for being one of the top producers of pepper in the world, Kampot pepper can be bought around the world and we visited one of the plantations for a free tour and tasting of the different types of pepper they grow there. The 1-hour TukTuk ride each way was a little bumpy through roads that just weren’t roads, but the scenery driving through the villages and seeing the local children playing was amazing, the pepper was good, so we bought some to take away. We’re not sure when we’ll use it yet, but it was nice to buy some from the plantation it was grown in.

We left Kampot after four days, got a bus back to Phnom Penh for one night to break up the journey to Siem Reap, which we are glad we did because the bus back to Phnom Penh that should only take a couple of hours took about four and a half, when we got to the hostel, we ate there and went to bed ready for an early bus to Siem Reap, and excited to see Angkor Wat…

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