A Kampot farewell to Cambodia

After eight days in Kampot it is time to pack our bags for the trip back to New Zealand. That involves a bus back to Phnom Pehn tomorrow in order to catch an early flight to Singapore the following morning. After a couple of nights in Singapore we catch our flight back to Kerikeri via Sydney and Auckland. Five days “on the road’ which is a little unusual for this trip where we have been dawdling for some time in fewer stops.

Our time in Kampot is best summed up by the following photo representation of the area.

The Kampong Bay River and Bokor Mountain and the Elephant Mountains make for a stunning setting for the town – a fisherman sets his fish traps in a line along the river.
Ruth wanders along a relatively clear section of river promenade – the village in the background is on Fish Island. Each evening around sunset the rvier is clogged with fishing boats heading out into the nearby Gulf of Thailand for their overnight fishing.
The old colonial buildings reminded us of Luang Prabang. Like that city they were in various stages of decay or renovation.


A brief illness made us wary of cycling so our scheduled ride into the countryside was completed in a Tuk Tuk instead. The roads were appalling and even a half track would have struggled over them. At one stage I had to get out and help push the tuk tuk out of some soft soil. On our return our clothes were filthy from the dust. While our target on this ride were specific ‘attractions’ we often get more enjoyment from watching the day to activities of the locals. We were impressesed by the range of vegetables – these were watered three times a day by filling neck syppurted dual watering cans from the nearby irrigation channel.
Our guide was getting the help from this little girl who appeared from nowhere and followed us up to the large limestone cave in the hills behind Kampot. We were the only visitors in the area.
The irrigation channels were flowing from this man made lake called the ‘Secret Lake”. The secret was not that few knew about it but that it was built at great human cost during the Pol Pot era. That era had only ended 20 years ago in this part of Cambodia.
This lady looks defiant as she takes on the tuk tuk during our ride down to coast Kep
They are very proud of the pepper they grow which they point out is number 1 in the world for flavour. We visited an export facility and watched a team of quality control workers sift through each individual pepper corn – extracting those that did not meet the minimum requirements. We learnt how black, red and white pepper all comes off the same plant – it is all about when the pepper is picked and what is done with it post picking.
We completed a very hot cycle out to The Greenhouse’ restaurant which sat overlooking this beautiful section of the river upstream from Kampot. There french/asian cuisine feature Kampot pepper – there were even Kampot Pepper Chocolate cookies.
Kep, 25km down the road and almost on the Vietnamese border is famous for its Crabs. The pots are placed in the water immediately in front of the market and when they are pulled from the water the locals swarm onto them and start fishing out handfuls of them (below).


While in Kep we walked up into the dense jungle of Kep National Park where we got views of the countryside and the Gulf of Thailand.
Ruth strides along the path that was surrounded by thick bush. We had experienced our first rain in SE Asia the night before so the jungle was steamy hot. The sounds of monkeys and birds added to the tropical jungle feel. While I felt that I should have been wearing the tropical pith hat what I really needed was a wet suit to handle the river of perspiration that was pouring off me.
While we did not see the monkeys while walking, we came across a troupe of around 20 of them as we were leaving Kep. They were wandering on the road and pillaging the local rubbish bins.
After fours days we were felt confident to get back on the bikes. Our first ride out along Fish Island came to an end when we struck a dirt road. The road had a regular stream of trucks carrying dirt (I think they are reclaiming the Gulf of Thailand) and we did not feel like battling both heat and dust. On our return Ruth found herself in a full-court-press between truck, car and cow.
Ruth showing her style on the hotel clanger.
Yesterday saw us riding up into the hills upstream from Kampot. The heat and humidty were ferocious but the treat was being able to sit and enjoy lunch in the riverside restaurant. Most of our time at restaurant was spend drinking anything we could get our hands on. On our return we were pleased that the hotel had a pool to cool off in.

1 comment

  1. You saw “Secret Lake” in the south and we visited Ang Trapeang Thmor, in a remote area near the Thai border- a massive reservoir built under the Khmer Rouge. It was staggering to see how large it was. Our guide said over 1,000 people died in digging it but we wondered if that was an under-estimation. Today it’s also used as a bird sanctuary, particularly for the vulnerable Saurus Cranes.

    Liked by 1 person

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