Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Kampot from CK's Prospective

A recent email from CK about our weekend in Kampot...
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> A month or two before we left for our trip, our friend Vim from high school (who Michelle met in Atlanta) put us in touch with her friend who lives in Phnom Penh. Lindsey is originally from Buffalo but moved to PP a few months ago for an adventure and also to teach. After a few email exchanges, Lindsey convinced us that taking a weekend trip down south to Kampot would be a great relaxing break from our hectic travels...looking back now I think it was my favorite part of our trip yet.
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> Lindsey met us at our hotel in PP on Friday night and we all split the cost of a taxi to Kampot. I can't begin to describe how luxurious the ride was when compared to all of recent buses, tuk tuks, etc! The journey took about 2.5 hours consisting of the constant swerving to avoid cows, water buffalo, chickens, children and pigs which has strangely become normal. Street addresses don't really seem to exist in this part of the world, so as we approached Kampot we called the guesthouse and had the taxi driver speak directly to the staff. Directions consisted of turning right at a temple entrance with two lions, following a dirt path to a mosque, driving through the mosque (seriously we almost hit it!), around a few villages (at which point our taxi driver was laughing out loud at how ridiculous the journey was) until finally being met on the road by a dog, which led us the way for another 5 mins down a few more dirt paths to the guesthouse.
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> We arrived at the Ganesha "eco-resort" just after 9pm, just in time to meet with the eccentric German owner and receive our flashlights that would be our primary lighting for the weekend. Lindsey booked us a large Yurt to share, which is essentially a large tent - no bathroom, a/c, or any real walls in sight! The unexpected surprise is that unlike what was listed on their website, we did have electricity - well, enough to power a few lanterns and a single fan (which I made sure got a good workout). We fell asleep under our mosquito nets to the sounds of geckos calling just above our heads.
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> After breakfast the next morning, we noticed a sign saying that the hotel could arrange motorbike rentals for 5 USD a day...I also realized that I finally had an ally in Lindsey, who had also never ridden one but always wanted to. A quick chat with the owner and the next thing we knew three motorbikes were delivered to our yurt. This was followed by me bringing up the fact that none of us had ever even been on one before. No problem, the woman who ran the guesthouse kindly pointed out to me the accelerator, gears, brakes and (most importantly) the horn. After a few shaky initial goings, we were off tearing up the dirt paths.
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> We decided to ride up the the Secret Lake, which not so secretly was the most identifiable landmark on our unnecessarily large tourist map. However as we were riding on the main road through the town of Kampot, I suddenly realized I had no control over my bike - the back end was swerving all over the place. Realizing something was very wrong, I pulled over to the side of the road to find my back tire completely flat! Now I've had flat tires when driving cars before and it usually takes a minute or so to realize somethings not right, this is certainly not the case on a machine with only 2 wheels! However after a call back to the guesthouse and Lindsey somehow communicating with a few nice locals to get on the phone to tell them where we were, a new bike appeared and we were once again off to the lake.
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> The Secret Lake was actually built by the Khmer Rouge some time ago, I'm guessing to help with irrigation for the fields but not entirely sure. We drove around the lake before spotting a couple of thatched roof huts next to the water with hammocks. We stopped, grabbed a couple of "cocas" and laid in the hammocks for the next hour or two just enjoying the scenery. The lake was surrounded by durian plantations, mountains and fields. We thought about taking a dip in the lake (which was recommended) but I was put off by the fact that we'd be swimming alongside cows! We met a few fellow travellers by the lake and were told of a couple nice places around town to go swimming so we jumped back on our bikes and headed to a swimming pool near the town.
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> It was so nice to be able to drive ourselves around for a change and not be dependent on tuk tuk drivers or taxis. The best part by far was the children in the villages that we drove past. As soon as they'd see us they'd scream "HELLO" as loud as they possibly could and wave their hands. This is the extent of their English for the most part, but it was so cute and their smiles were amazing. This was the Cambodia we were looking for! We stopped all along the roads and talked with the locals and children - all were very friendly and happy to say hello, give us directions or simply give a smile. I think that single ride through town made the trip for both Jen and I, absolutely amazing!
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> We spent the rest of the day lounging by a pool before returning to our yurt to watch the sunset while swinging from hammocks again. Probably one of the best days of my life, and we decided to repeat it again the next day before heading back to PP by taxi.
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> Can't wait to share the pictures from this part of our trip - I only hope they capture how amazing this place is. I don't know if we'll ever make it back to this part of the world again, but if we do Kampot will be on top of my list of places to visit. Only next time I want to spend at least a week (if not month) just there, riding a motorbike around town and taking it all in.
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> Sent from my iPod

1 comment:

prolix said...

Ladies and gentlemen, my winter wheels are back! After choosing not to ride on Monday due to road conditions, I set out Tuesday morning enthusiastically, but my enthusiasm was short-lived.Tires Florida