6/15 – Kampot pepper is this area’s claim to fame, so today we did the tourist thing and hired a tuk-tuk to take us to visit Sothy’s Pepper Farm.
We met Norbert Klein, a German expatriate who purchased this farm four years ago. He grows fruit trees in addition to Kampot pepper, which is grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
It is just after the harvest season for the pepper, but there were still some green pepper grapes on the vines.
The pepper plants are shaded with a roof of palm fronds as pepper doesn’t grow well in direct sun.
The plants are tied up on poles, and grow to about eight feet high.
After harvest, the green peppercorns are set out in the sun to dry. Most turn black, others white. Some of the white ones are boiled and peeled to reveal red peppercorns, the rarest and most expensive. The colors are sorted by hand.
There is a small shop with fruit and pepper for sale. An interesting trip; we learned a lot! and it made me appreciate Kampot pepper sauce even more!
6/17 – Today we hiked again in Kep National Park, this time entering from the beach side. We had to pay a dollar to enter. There is a sign assuring us that this park has been cleared of land mines, and is safe for hiking. This is good to know – thanks USA for the gift that keeps on giving, 50 years after the Vietnam War ended. (We met a European tourist who looked puzzled when we mentioned the Vietnam War, then he said, “Oh, we call it the American War!”)
We saw a sign asking us not to feed the monkeys, and kept looking up, hoping to see one in the trees.
As we sat quietly on a bench, we heard a great crashing above, and saw a monkey swinging among the trees! I was not fast enough to catch a shot of him between trees, but this is a pic of the tree with the monkey in it, I swear!
Further up the road was a side trail promising cold drinks and baby monkeys. The side trail was very steep, very narrow, very full of mosquitoes, but no more monkeys (or cold drinks) did we see!
It was awfully hot, even in the shade, but it was a nice morning’s walk. Here is some beauty from the trail.