Inquiry Submission By Robynrad
With thanks to the TA community for all their insights and advice. I booked 3 nights in Kampot to finish up our 2 week Cambodian experince. By the time we arrived on the Giant Ibis bus via very dusty potholed roads from Phnom Pehn our bodies had enjoyed the Cambodian massage and we were ready to slow down. Not sure we did but the whole Kampot vibe felt relaxing.
We were fought over as usual at the bus depot for a tuk tuk. We loaded ourselves into one only to be offloaded to anotherÿ when we requested Mea Culpa. What a great place to stay! We were greeted by Ben the affable Irish host and set up for our next few days. The place isn’t new but it’s clean, comfortable and quiet, and the longer we stayed the more we liked it. Everything worked! Hot showers! Quiet AC. Even free water to refill our bottles. Breakfast wasn’t included in the price but it was individually prepared and served in a lovely area surrounded by gardens.
After arriving we enquired about organising a tuk tuk up to a pepper farm. In two ticks Ben had a delightful young man ready to go. He took us to Le Plantation via the Secret Lake. 50 mins ($20 return) over a pretty rough track but hey…more massage. We arrived in time for a late peppery lunch while our driver relaxed with his mates at the purpose built driver’s rest. Pretty good Loc Lac Beef and an unusual pancake dish both with fresh pepper and lime dipping sauce. Next was the free tour. Mostly involves a talk about pepper growing, a walk around the pepper plants and an interesting pepper tasting which blew our taste buds. Great but more water please! No pressure to buy but it’s all there waiting. Back in our tuk tuk to Mea Culpa for a bit of a lie down.
Late afternoon we headed out on the free hotel bicycles down the riverfront into town. Watched the first of 3 sensational sunsets. With the light and colour still glowing we bought beer and cocktails at the old Fishmarket. Maybe overpriced but what a location. In the end we stayed for dinner and enjoyed every mouthful. Wobbled on back for an early night.
Day 2 We’d booked a half day bike ride with Butterfly Tours. We’d used them in Battanbang and loved having these young uni students show us oldies around. This time our guide Makara was a delight, full of energy and joy and singing as we rode. We introduced him to some Aussie favourites and can’t imagine what the locals thought as we launched into a rendition of Waltzing Matilda. Probably only 14kms was actually cycled as we stopped and ate rice products of every kind, saw noodles being made in a backyard set up, admired and tasted lotus flowers and discussed politics and religion with inadequate English. What a great morning!
Lunch at Mea Culpa with bread toasted in the pizza oven for brushetta. Yum.
After a nap befitting our age we headed out on the hotel bikes for a spot of shopping. Took us a while to find a tourist shop and then we were pleasantly ignored until we made our selection of T shirts and tablecloths.
Tonight (after sunset) we had dinner at Rikitikitavi. Lovely! Although I didn’t take a shine to the Kampot Bloody Mary which was a tad too peppery for me. Nice place but I think we made the right decision to take the quieter accommodation option at Mea Culpa.
Day 3. Let down today by the Crab Shuttle which messaged us to apologise they needed to make some repairs so would not be running to Kep today.ÿ Next best option was tuk tuk which Ben sorted with no problems.($25 return). This driver didn’t have much English but he was given our itinerary and was very amenable. First stop was another off road experience to the cave temple of Phnom Chhngom. On arrival we were offered a tour by a young man which basically involved information we could have got from our guidebook and pointing out possible animal representations in the cave. $4 sigh. The small temple itself is from the 7th century so pretty impressive. We stuck to the steps and path so no cavingfor us. Onto Kep past some very pretty farming land. Amazing roads compared to the bush tracks around Kampot. Began seeing the abandoned French villas hiding behind stone fences and overgrown gardens.Headed up to the beach first where we had a walk in the water and bought a drink. Then back to the Crab Markets for a wander and lunch in one of the restaurants. Did I mention the fall out of the tuk tuk? No, best not describe that undignified moment. Clutching the tissues to my bloody elbow I was determined to enjoy my seafood lunch. It was great! We shared some salt and pepper squid, bbq’ed fish both with pepper and lime dipping sauce and a crab amok. All crab and no effort. Well fed we made the trek up the hill to the butterfly farm. So pretty! Then back to Mea Culpa. Encouraged by the young backpackers we met the night before we jumped on board one of the sunset cruise boats ($5) My husband got working on the free beers while I worked on our last sunset with a G&T. We took our places on the top deck and wondered about the lack of tables and real chairs…. until we approached the first over river bridge. If you’d been standing you’d lose your head. We all reached up to touch the bridge as we glided beneath. Same same next two bridges. Enjoyed the serenity as the sun sank into the hills and the colours in the sky faded from orange to crimson to blue. Stopped for 10mins to see the fireflies and were amused by the people taking flash photos. Back to Mea Culpa for the last time where we indulged in the best wood fired pizza and a French red.
I’d do it all again if I could tomorrow.