Cambodia, Days 12-15 – Kampot Recovery

Looking back on our time in Cambodia, it’s pretty clear now that it was a holiday in two parts, with Phnom Penh forming the pivot.

Acclimatising to Cambodia, temple tours and the general hustle bustle of Siem Reap, bamboo trains in Battambang, the madness of the streets of Phnom Penh…it was a pretty hectic couple of weeks!

The second half of the holiday couldn’t have been more different, and it all started in the sleepy little town called Kampot.

Kampot is located about 2 hours down the road from Phnom Penh and would appear to be a very popular escape for Phnom Penh residents. After three nights there it was easy to see why! Located on the banks of the expansive Kampot River, it was the perfect place to unwind and recharge. Fantastic accommodation at Rikitikitavi, lazy days sipping cocktails in one of the numerous bars dotting the riverside, and the opportunity to do a tour of the famous Starling Kampot Pepper Farm!!

Unfortunately, I’ve only just found out that in transferring my photos across to my PC I’ve actually lost about a day and a half’s worth of photos! Not happy at all, but thankfully it happened at this point in the holiday when we weren’t really doing a whole lot!

Day 1 – Check-in and an awesome homemade lemonade at Rikitikitavi. Happy hour cocktails (we pledged to try every single one on the menu over the next two days!). Played tennis in our room with the racket shaped mosquito zapper.

Day 2 – Explored the streets of Kampot in searing heat. All day we could hear birds twittering and calling at us as we walked the streets, but there was something that just didn’t sound ‘right’. It turns out that the bird calls are played over loudspeakers all across the town so as to lure in other birds that will then build a nest inside the numerous roosting houses located on the rooftops. The locals then collect the saliva from the birds to make the very lucrative birds-nest soup! We were keen to book the Ecran Movie House for own own private showing, but unfortunately the place was closed. Karen enjoyed a pedicure while I wandered the streets some more taking photos (I tried to get a pedicure as well, but they refuse to give them to men!!). Stopped in at Mary’s Pie and Icecream shop. Very tasty oatmeal and choc-chip cookie! Lunch was at Epic Arts Cafe, a fantastic place run by Kampot’s deaf and disabled community, giving their members the opportunity to display and sell their arts and crafts. While it’s obviously a great cause, they also happen to produce some incredible meals! Finished the evening with a riveting ‘Sex and the City’ marathon…

The Kampot waterfront, and a couple of very broken looking swans!

Looking north up the Kampot river

The streets of Kampot are full of old houses still showing the effects of the war and general deterioration

One of the other things for which Kampot is famous…the Durian Roundabout!! Quite bizarre…

Kampot residence

Central (sleepy) Kampot

Dilapidated buildings

Epic Arts Cafe (upstairs)

Day 3 – Did a fantastic tuk tuk tour out to the Kampot salt flats (not in operation due to it being rainy season), the famous Starling Pepper Plantation and the township of Kep. The road out to the farm was absolutely insane!! Recent rains had turned the red dirt into a total quagmire, full of potholes of unknown depth, lakes of water and very sticky mud! Lunch was at Kimly in Kep, where we had their world renowned Kampot Pepper Crab. To be honest we were both a little underwhelmed. While the sauce was very tasty, it didn’t quite have the ‘wow’ factor that we had heard everyone raving about. After returning to Kampot we proceeded on our own little pub crawl up and down the numerous bars scattered along the waterfront. Watched some rugby league in The Rusty Nail while drinking beers…it turns out Karen actually knows who Johnathon Thurston is..?! After the rugby it was time for some hurling. No, not THAT type of hurling!! The Irish type 🙂 As if you’d ever think you’d be watching hurling at a bar in Kampot, Cambodia?!! We then made friends with a kitten at O’Neill’s Bar, while also discovering that Beer Lao is rancid. We finished up the evening back at Rikitikitavi, drinking more cocktails and even the odd Balvenie Whisky (I’m still not a convert). It was here while half tanked that we met an incredibly cheeky young 8 year old lady by the name of Jasmine that was travelling through Cambodia with her parents. We talked for ages about horses, school holidays travel in general and all sorts of other nonsense, also discovering that she lived in the Adelaide Hills and was quite familiar with the primary school that I attended as a youngster. Such a lovely girl and I’m so disappointed that the photo we took of ourselves and young Jasmine was one of the many that were accidently deleted 🙁 

Kampot salt flats (sans salt)

Empty salt storage building

Working the fields

More salt flats

Planting rice

Kampot pepper! We ate some of this straight off the vine. Incredibly spicy and unlike any other pepper we’ve eaten. Apparently the green pepper has to be eaten within days of being picked, and no one has yet worked out an effective way of transporting it large distances. So to try it, you’ve got to travel to Cambodia!

Pepper vines are planted at the base of brick pillars for them to climb up

More pepper!

More rice fields

More pepper

I love the abstract nature of this simple pile of bricks. One of my favourite photos from Cambodia!

Day 4 – I was keen to get up early and watch Kampot wake up with the dawn. An epic hangover was not conducive to such activities! Regardless, I got out there and got some great pictures (again, lost) of the fishing boats making their way down the river to the ocean. Once the sun was up I strolled back to the hotel and climbed back into bed to rest my weary head. After a quick exploration of some of the streets we didn’t see a couple of days ago, we caught our tuk tuk across to Kep, our next destination!