Kampot & Kep Weekend

The most adventurous trip I’ve had yet…

and it began with our bus breaking down about 20 miles from our destination.

To back up for a moment, the weekend before last I went on an excursion to the bayfront provinces of Kampot and Kep. Kampot is famous for it’s pepper farms and Kep is famous for it’s delicious crabs which are often accompanied by fresh Kampot pepper.

We left early on Saturday morning from the Central Market bus station. The bus ticket only cost $5 for the almost 5 hour trip and the bus was air conditioned (a luxury in SE Asia). We’d nearly made it to our destination without fault when the bus pulled over to the side of the road and came to a stop. I’d thought for a moment it was just a random bathroom break but when the back of the bus suddenly lowered to the ground, I knew something wasn’t working. The engine was still running, but apparently some part of the suspension had gone awry (probably due to the speed at which these buses fly over potholes in the dirt roads). Never the less, after about 40 minutes of just waiting around we managed to procure a wayward tuk-tuk into Kep.

We stayed at the lovely Boathouse Guesthouse in Kep. The staff was so friendly and the rooms were clean and extremely affordable. They let the five of us share a room so we only ended up paying $3 per person – that’s cheap travel!

They even provided “free gecko removal” when we discovered this guy in our bathroom. As the hotel staff tossed the little guy over the balcony into the shrubs he made the most hilarious gecko noise – almost sounded like he was saying “help!”

Kep is a small little bayfront town, there isn’t much to do other than lay on the beach and eat crab, but the fresh air was well needed after 2 months living among the polluted streets of Phnom Penh.

We spent Sunday morning touring a small little Pepper farm with a beautiful view.

We then moved on to Kampot. The transportation from Kep to Kampot was my first real “oh my god I’m lost in Cambodia” experience. The staff from the guesthouse advised us that we could catch the bus to Kampot by simply standing by the side of the road at around 1pm, and when it passed by we could just wave it down and hop on. Simple enough. Until we are actually on said bus, about 20 min into the drive, realizing that nobody on the bus speaks a lick of English. And suddenly a few of them seem somewhat concerned that we (the crazy tourist girls) are on the wrong bus. Not to mention I soon realize that the young guy who let us on the bus saying “yes yes, Kampot” & waved us on-board was clearly high on something, evidenced in his crazy eyes and erratic beavior. At this point I was silently praying, while simultaneously devising a plan for contacting someone to come pick us up if we got stranded in middle of no where Cambodia.

Thankfully, and despite the initial confusion we safely arrived in Kampot. I can assure you that it’s times like this that 2 for 1 happy hours are most appreciated.

Kampot turned out to be a quaint riverfront town with another beautiful view. Travel tip: If visiting Kampot, Rikitikitavi Restaurant has an excellent menu and HUGE cocktails!

By far, the highlight of the trip was visiting the cave temple of Phnom Chhngok. It was a rainy bumpy tuk-tuk ride, but once we arrived we were greeted by a gaggle of young tour guides who were eager to help us along the way. These were seriously the sweetest kids, they spoke incredible English – a few of them spoke a little French and German too!

At one point when my flimsy sandals were literally coated in mud and I was having a hard time walking, one of the little girls demanded that I take off my shoes and give them to her. She then proceeded to take them over to a little pond where she scraped off all the mud using sticks and proudly handed them back to me as good as new. This was the most heartfelt, innocently sweet gesture I’ve ever received. It nearly brought me to tears and is one of those small little moments among my travels that I’ll never forget.

Once we arrived at the cave temple I marveled at this ancient, beautiful space, wandering all the while about the history of this seemingly magical temple cave.

The kids were eager to point out the mysterious nature made animal shapes hidden in the cave walls including an elephant, a crocodile, an eagle an a turtle!

Despite the few travel scares, this was definitely a worth while departure from the bustle and congestion of Phnom Penh.

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