Kampot & Kep

The two go hand in hand, Kampot being the sleepy town and Kep being even sleepier. The towns are in the south, between Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh. The region is famous for its gorgeous pepper and the farms offer tours almost everywhere. We did the other famous attraction by hiring a bike a riding to Bokor’s national park. Full of natural beauty, Bokor has always been a favourite for the locals, but has a history with the French and recently received a huge hotel complex from the Chinese. On top of the hills, lies the old buildings of Bokor, including a church and resort. It was abandoned in the late 1940s and later used by the Khmer Rouge. Stripped bare and isolated on the top of the mountain, Bokor is creepy and spine chilling. Weirdly, we saw a wedding photo shoot taking place outside. The best part of Bokor though, is the ride up. It took us an hour each way and I loved it. All my nervousness on the back of a moped went away, as we cruised up the hill and breathed in the mountain air. My god it was pretty.

On the bike again, (James doesn’t trust me to drive, so just one bike for now) we drove to Kep. Rather than staying over night and lugging our stuff around, we nipped over for the day. The crab market is their star attraction, making crab the town symbol. The market was madness! Bamboo baskets in the sea were rammed with blue clawed crabs, which were hauled out when a buyer wanted. So fresh! At the end of the market, in the depths, there’s a row of pots on heat boiling away. The idea is that you buy the crab, take it to be cooked and eat it straight away. Sea to mouth in under five minutes. Feeling brave, we tried it out with a woman who had an additional stir-fry step after the boiling step. It was a mess of pointing and smiling, grabbing crabs and some more helpless pointing but we got there, almost. The crab was handed to us cooked but whole and plain. Some more pointing, nothing, then I took the crab to her pan and did some cooking motions, crab motions and more pointing… success! We had ourselves a spicy crab stir fry with -of course- fresh pepper. Not very elegant but tasty and fresh. The rest of Kep is sleepy beaches, so we did a loop around town and went back to Kampot.

Kampot itself is quiet and relaxed. The main town follows the river, between the salt roundabout and the durian roundabout. There’s places where you can drink cocktails and listen to jazz, and there are places to bag a bargain on hippie ‘elephant’ trousers. If you’re feeling really fancy you can have dinner on a boat on the river, but there’s plenty of good food on dry land. A cool place to spend a couple of hours is Epic Arts cafe, we ate some cake for a good cause and watched Kampot crawl by.

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