We arrived in Kampot
on the south coast of Cambodia, by bus from Phnom Penh. Kampot, and it’s neighbouring town Kep, are former French colonial towns. But years of neglect and the Khmer Rouge,
many of whom were based here during the Pol Pot years, have taken their toll. Despite that, glimpses of their former glory can be seen, albeit that the buildings and architecture are being replaced in favour of more modern and less interesting buildings.
Kampot, 150km from Phnom Penh, is famous for its pepper (white, black and green) which sells for around $15-$25 per kilo. Documents exist to prove the production of Kampot pepper as far back as the 13c. There are also numerous salt fields near the coast.
We are staying in an idyllic little “Tipi” resort called Ganesha Eco Resort
is about 3km out of town, on the river, run by a really friendly and nice German guy called Dirk who’s lived here for a while. We upgraded from a Yurt on the river, to a rather strange but delightful “tower”
with views overlooking the surrounding farms and fields
. We hired a 250cc trial bike from Sean Ly Motor Repairing Ship (Tel 012 944 687/012 643 149) for a few days and have been exploring the area, as well as paddling around in a small wooden canoe
belonging to the resort.
One of the best things about visiting a foreign country is the unusual and interesting fellow travellers you meet along the way. At “Ganesha” (our resort), the other guests include a young Swiss lawyer who is working for the UN as an independent legal advisor for the Defence on the Khmer Rouge trials currently happening in Phnom Penh, and a Dutch guy called Ben, who farms in Tamil Nadu in India and is very knowledgeable about farming and the planting of trees.
Apart from exploring the backwaters, we spent a great day at a posh resort called Natalyia
. One of the benefits of being confident and Western is that you can often sneak in to use the facilities - in this case, a wonderful "infinity" pool - much needed after a lengthy bike ride and temperatures during the day of 32 degrees plus! In the evening last night, we returned to Kampot for a pounding, stretching and pulling of flesh in the form of a Shiatsu massage by the blind masseurs - ouch!! At least they couldn't see my grimacing.