The title is a bit misleading considering that Kampot is also paradise and my new favorite place. If there’s any place I could live in Cambodia, it is Kampot. Athough, I think I really could live many places here.
Kampot is green and small and quiet with little adventures waiting to be had. I loved Kampot so much that three days turned to eight. After leaving, I came back. And before leaving Cambodia I plan to go back again.
I love Kampot. Kampot forever. Kampot for president. Eat more Kampot. Vote Kampot. Free Kampot. Kampot to the face.
I can’t say enough good things about Kampot.
But, of course, I’ll try.
I arrived in the center of town on a little van (Sorya Bus for those taking travel notes – I suggest you click that link because the photo of the two men on the homepage is great) from Otres. Fast trip considering some of the other bus trips I’ve taken – only about 4 hours. The town center is fairly small, but it’s a nice little town to walk through. There are some crumbly little buildings that once probably looked perfect. I think I like it the way it is now.
Also from the Sorya Bus website: “Cambodia is now the first destination of the new Millennium.”
I’m not sure what “the first destination of the new Millenium” means, but I’ll agree with it.
From the center of town I took a $2 tuk-tuk to the riverside to find Samon’s Village, which had been recommended to me by a British girl I met in a market. My process of vetting appropriate places to stay has gone from internet research to simply taking the advice of a girl in the market. To my credit, we did have a really nice time chatting for 20 minutes so she wasn’t really a stranger by the end.
The Kampot River runs through town and ultimately into the Gulf of Thailand. East of the river is the center of town and West of the river are lots of little guesthouses along the shore. If my description of lady boys at Samon’s Village doesn’t sound exciting enough, you might try these places to stay instead:
- Bodhi Villa: Lots of music, goes late, expats, travelers.
- Olly’s Place: I had a good breakfast here. Curry for dinner one night, too.
- Naga House: I had an okay breakfast here.
But! I cannot say enough about Samon’s Village. My time there was beautiful. In addition to Kampot being the perfect town for little adventures, the staff at Samon’s became my little family. The place is owned by Samon who employs (among a few others) his aunt, uncle and cousin. Jin, his cousin, wears wigs and dresses when nobody is looking and has an intense fear of geckos. He recently had his heart broken by a boy at the beach and played Adele over and over and over again, occasionally singing along.
Jin also has a fledgling side business as an aesthetician. When I first arrived he showed me my bungalow and immediately asked if I wanted anything waxed. I said no. A few days later I let him do my nails though. He also asked me to make his fancy sign, which I did with pleasure.
The place is made up of lots of little bungalows – some with outdoor bathrooms that give you a view of the mountains while you shower and others with a shared bathroom. All are made of wood, which allows little creatures to come in. One night the cat slipped in under the roof. I was glad it was a cat and not a gigantic lizard, but a few weeks into traveling and both would have been okay I guess.
The second time around I stayed in the “treehouse,” which is exactly what it sounds like. I had to climb up wooden stairs into a three-walled little place. Where the wall should have been on the river side, there was a small sheet to pull back and forth that gave a full view of the river. It was great.
Every night tons of fishing boats go out for a night of fishing in the ocean. Early in the morning they come back. Their engines sound a bit like being attacked by a swarm of helicopters, but it was one of my favorite things about staying on the river.
Kampot was great in part because of Samon’s Village, but mostly I was incredibly fortunate to meet three people living in Kampot. I spent lots of time with Kamala who is from Australia, but has lived in Cambodia for many years. When I met her she had just sold her hotel in Kampot and was open to adventures.
But, before jetting off with her, I did a one day tour of the area that included the salt fields, a pepper plantation, a trip to nearby Kep and a sunset boat ride.
Kampot is known for its pepper, which comes in four varieties: green, red, black and white. Each has a different taste, but is actually grown on the same stalk and harvested at different times. Kampot Pepper isn’t just ANY pepper, though, my friends. Kampot Pepper has a Geographical Indication, which means you won’t find it anywhere else. The flavor and quality of the pepper comes as a direct result of the area in which its grown. In the USA, vidalia onions have a Geographical Indication and must be grown within a certain region around Vidalia, Georgia. Similar Geographical Indications exist for Tennessee Whiskey and Roquefort cheese which must be matured in the natural caves near the town of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in a specific region of France. AND YOU THOUGHT THIS BLOG WAS JUST ABOUT CAMBODIA!
I know this seems like a lot about pepper, but I promise that this pepper is great. So, if I come back and give you pepper you should make me something really delicious with it. Or, just give it back to me. That would be a nice way to thank me for giving you pepper.
This is what a one-day tour looks like through rather uninspired photos. It was hot and, of all the things I did, this tour was just okay:
If these pictures inspired you to do your OWN one day tour of the area, go to Captain Chim’s Restaurant in the center of town. They’ve got all sorts of different things you can do, including one of the only bus services I could find advertised to get to Kompong Cham. Being a restaurant they also have food. It was okay.
Captain Chim (or in my case, Captain Chim’s brother-in-law) provides lunch and water along with a beverage of your choice for the sunset boat ride. I chose a beer, but was a little bit jealous when I saw that other people had chosen coconuts. It was hot and that would have been nice. But, really, who goes on a boat ride without a beer?
The day after this tour, Kamala overheard me talking about wanting to go up to Bokor Mountain. She’d never been and had time on her hands and offered to come along. I completely lied and said I had recently driven a motorbike. In actuality the last time I drove a motorbike was in Sicily with Amy when I crashed into an urn and had to be removed by the people working in a nearby cafe. After that I wasn’t allowed to ride along because I was too “pericoloso.”
But, Kamala and I rented motorbikes and off we went. More on that some other day. I think I’ve given you much to consider.