Tag Archives: Kep

Kep to Koh Kong, Cambodia 

6/20 – Time to press on:  our 30 day Cambodian visa is about to expire, and we have set our sights on a Thai island that several travelers have recommended to us.  Our first step is to get from Kep to Koh Kong, the nearest town to the Thai border.  We purchased minibus tickets from the travel agent at the beach in Kep, and showed up at 7:15am the next morning for our minibus, which arrived a half hour later (no worries – bus times are merely suggestions here).  We made a stop in Kampot to pick up more passengers, then another stop after all the seats were full, then another!  We ended up with 13 people in a van with 8 seats – the two youngest backpackers were invited to sit with the luggage (our driver called these the VIP seats), and everybody else just squeezed together for the four hour ride without air conditioning. I had time to reflect that this was how I envisioned all our travel in Asia would be, and how amazingly modern most of our transport has been.

Koh Kang is a harbor town, right on the border of Thailand.  It is not a tourist town. 

 

We walked down to the water to watch the fishermen at work. 

   

This is definitely not a beach for swimming! 

 

There are wide promenades and statues that hint that this town once positioned itself as a place for visitors, but the sidewalks are being reclaimed by the local flora, and the area has not been maintained.

    

A schoolyard with statues: 

    

On to Thailand!

  

Kep, Cambodia – the Crab Market

6/18 – About two km walk along the beach from our hotel is the famous Kep Crab Market. The walk was breathtakingly beautiful. 

    Here’s the crab market – a conglomerate of shacks right at the water’s edge.. 

  There were lots of squid, flatfish and shrimp for sale, in addition to crabs cooked any way you like. 

  

Look at the lady on the right – it looks like she is dressed for a blizzard, although it is 100 degrees.  And she is standing in front of a hot grill!

    

We watched the crab pots being hauled in, and the sellers haggling for the best crabs. 

     

We had lunch at one of the little restaurants, looking right out on the water.  This time I remembered to take a picture of our crab with Kampot pepper sauce – before and after! 

   

On our walk home, we had a special treat.  A whole troop of monkeys met us on the road! 

         

A perfect end to our day! 

Kep, Cambodia – the Pepper Farm and the Park

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!”)

 

  
The climb up the hill gave us some nice views of the beach below. 

    We reached a waterfall, but it was dry, as there has not been enough rain for the water to flow. Here is a pic of what it should look like.

   

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. 

        

Kep, Cambodia – the Beach

6/12 – This morning we bade farewell to the lovely but isolated Botanica Guesthouse and tuk-tukked down the road to beautiful downtown Kep.  Here we found a street with shops, restaurants and even an ATM!   

   

A Hindu statue at the roundabout:

  

We will stay at the Saravoan Hotel, just steps from the beach, for the next week or so.

 

Kep is all about the beach.   Out on the pier is a statue of a lady – the locals have draped her in scarves to cover her immodesty. 

     Even monks need a vacation: 

  

Here is the view from our balcony.  Sorry if there’s not much to blog this week – I intend to spend most of my time swimming!

  

   6/14 – We woke up on Sunday morning to the sounds of people and traffic.  What’s going on in our sleepy little town?  We walked out of our hotel into a flurry of activity – restaurants had set up extra tables on the sidewalk, carts lined the street hawking food, fruit, ice cream, cold drinks, crabs and squid.   Music filled the air.

 

  
Sunday is the day when locals pile their families into cars and rent a parking space near the water, and buses of tourists come from nearby Vietnam for a day in the sun. 

 

Little cabanas are for rent, where families picnicked and swung in hammocks in the shade. 

 

  
The afternoon turned cloudy, but the weather didn’t deter the revelers.  You’ll notice that folks stay mostly clothed, even when they go into the water.   

 

After a swim, we sat on our balcony and gazed out at the water.  Around dusk, two monkeys strolled down the street, stopping to inspect the trash on the roadside, lick out food containers and help themselves to anything that looked tasty.  There’s a sign in our hotel warning guests not to leave anything out on the balcony where it can be stolen by monkeys.  We brought our shoes indoors, just in case.  We watched them for a long time, and listened to the sound of the gentle waves. What a treat!

 

Kep, Cambodia – the Gulf

6/7 – We’ve been doing lots of relaxing in the heat.  June is supposed to be the beginning of Cambodia’s wet season, but there has been only one brief rain shower, and the sun came right back out.

We eat breakfast at the guesthouse every morning (omelettes and baguettes, very French) and alternate the rest of our meals between the small restaurant across the street, purchases from tiny stands nearby, and the occasional splurge at the French restaurant at the guesthouse (excellent cuisine, but three times what we are used to paying for a meal).  The people outside the guesthouse gates are living at a pretty basic level, and we like to spread our purchases out so that the most people benefit.  We noticed that some of the women who run the stands lack basic arithmetic skills – they can tell you the price of each item, but cannot add them up for a total.  Maybe folks here only buy one thing at a time?

Here’s our favorite small restaurant.  Beef and assorted fried vegetables ( I love the morning glory especially) with rice and a pot of tea, $2.00.

 
Jim negotiating for some fruit. 

 

As we returned from a shopping excursion with a small plastic bag, our host stopped us to inquire what was in the bag.  We showed him our little watermelon, and he apologized for asking.  It seems that the Asian folks in one of the other bungalows had brought home a durian, and left the rinds in the room overnight.  He said the bungalow now stinks so bad he won’t be able to rent it out for a week at least!  Sooner or later, I will try this fruit, I promise. Our delicious and not smelly watermelon, about the size of a softball:

 

6/9 – Today we walked down the dusty road toward the Gulf of Thailand.  We are not close to Kep’s swimming beach, but wanted to take a look at the water.  Aren’t the clouds beautiful?

 

There is no beach here, and vegetation grows right up to the water’s edge.

 

  

A fishing / crabbing boat:

  

A family’s waterfront home.

  

A flame tree and a zebu (bony white cow).

  

Another fine day.

Kep, Cambodia – the Park

6/4 – 🎵Da da da da da daaa da Today is my birthday! June is full of occasions: our anniversary, one son’s birthday, other son’s anniversary. A month of celebration!

Today we will hike into the Kep National Park to see what there is to see. Even though we leave right after breakfast, it is HOT.  The temperature is in the 90s every day, with a “real feel” of 105F due to the humidity.  I used to be such a dainty thing, but now the sweat just pours off me whenever I’m outside. I’m grateful for any little spot of shade I can find, and will cross the street to whatever side offers the most respite.

We walk past a school with animal statues adorning the path. The children wave and say, “hello!” Girls and women keep their shoulders and knees covered here in Cambodia. Boys either wear long shorts or a sarong.image

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These little cuties struck a pose without any prompting. Note the photobomber – a worldwide phenomenon!

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We pass a gas station. Not what you expected?

 

The trail is a dirt path also used by motorbikes. We see some skinny cows, called zebu.image

At a fork in the path we find a shrine.image

The path up the mountain takes us to an old dam.  It is perfectly quiet and peaceful. 

 When Jim’s on the trail, he’s a happy man. 

  

In case we get lost, a rock shows us the way.

 There’s a trail here, really! 

 

Some trail side beauty. 

         Have I mentioned how much I love flame trees? 

 

From the top of the hill, we can see the water below – the Gulf of Thailand. 

 Back to our bungalow, drenched with sweat.  Guess who’s spending the afternoon in the pool?

For supper we splurged on the local specialty, Kep crab with Kampot pepper sauce.  Once again, I should have taken a picture, but was too busy eating.  Here’s an online photo.  The strings of green peppercorns give a taste that is out of this world.  If you ever get the opportunity, you must try! 

 

Kampot to Kep, Cambodia

6/3 – We stayed in Kampot for three days, then decided to move to a place with a swimming pool, a half an hour’s drive away in nearby Kep.  Here’s what we saw on the tuk-tuk ride.image

The roundabouts have statues on them, which helps with directions.  Take a left at the white horse!
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If Kampot was laid back, this place is barely on life support.  There is no town that we can see,  just a series of guest houses along the main, dusty road. Only one lane of the road is paved – the motorbikes and tuk-tuks ride in the dirt. image

We are staying at the Botanica guesthouse, run by an old Frenchman and his young Cambodian wife.  It is comprised of eight thatched roof cottages that are hidden from one another by lush tropical foliage and flowers.  It is gorgeous.

What is this tree? image

Here is our bungalow.imageimage

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Lovely artwork on the wall by the pool – we spent a long time analyzing it!image

Tomorrow we will hike!

Phnom Penh to Kampot, Cambodia

5/30 – We are looking forward to getting out of the noisy bustle of Phnom Penh, and seeing the Cambodian countryside.  It seems that the more we travel, the less we like big cities.  Even 9000 miles from home, cities have a sameness in their traffic, squalor, shops, hawkers, taxi drivers and press of people.

Several travelers suggested that we head south to check out the adjoining towns of Kampot and Kep.  This is easily done by booking a $6.00 ticket on a bus heading south, and today is our travel day.  We were told the ride would take three hours, but it took five.  Nothing wrong; we have become accustomed to the exaggeration of ticket sellers who want you to think that their bus line can get you there faster than the line next door.  The bus curtains were closed against the heat of the day for most of the trip, so only a few pix of the countryside.  Lots of skinny white cows foraging at the roadside or grazing in the fields.imageimage image

The bus stopped first in Kep, and most of the young tourists got off there, right at the oceanfront.  We stayed on, as our lodging for the next three days is in Kampot.

The tuk-tuk brought us right to the door of the Kampot Manor, a beautiful French colonial on a quiet road outside of town.  image

Our host David was surprised to see us, and told us that perhaps an error was made at Booking.com, as he did not have our reservation.  No worries (he is Australian); he asked us to wait while a room was made up for us, and we were settled in no time.  Come to find out, we had mistakenly booked online for June 30 instead of May 30.  Darn these new-fangled computers! David got it all sorted out.

Our room was on the upper floor, with a wrap-around veranda.  We ordered supper (David is an excellent chef), and he delivered it up to the veranda so we could watch the sunset.  We were not disappointed – what a stunner!imageimage image

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Tomorrow, the town!