Kampot the Crab Pot……
Our ride from Snook to Kampot took about two hours on the rough, dusty and pot holed roads… lol, riding through the country side past small towns full of hard working Cambodians, all going about their daily chores.
‘A little bit about Kampot’
Kampot is a quiet riverside town just a few kilometers from the Gulf of Thailand and is steeped in French Colonial history.
Kampot was best known for its famous black pepper, which is still widely available in Cambodia.
Kampot was one of the last regions for Khmer Rouge forces as it enjoyed relative protection due to the Bokor Mountain range, the Elephant Mountains and the Gulf of Thailand.
In 1994 three foreigners taken from a Sihanoukville train and executed, kampot was a no-go area for tourists for at least another decade!
We hadn’t booked a place to stay but had read reviews on trip advisor about one called ‘Hour kheong Guest House’ i went in and was greeted by a friendly young man who ssid there was only one room left, and don’t worry about parking your bike, it can go in the foyer!….
In his softly spoken voice he said ‘you can check out the room if you like’…the room was clean and big, we even had 2 king size beds! plus it was only $15 a night, we booked for 2 nights but said it may be longer if thats are ok, no problem he said…the deal was done!
After a shower and change of clothes, we quickly checked our emails, wow the wifi was super fast, great just what we needed.
So off to the Rusty keyhole for a beer and some lunch as we’re meeting up with Richard (Travelingstrom), who was also riding into kampot on the same day…we met Richard a couple of years ago at the Horizons meeting in Daybro, Queensland and had been following his blog for a few years before that, he also rides a Vstrom…
The Rusty keyhole…..
After meeting up with Richard we also arranged to meet him there for dinner later on.
The Rusty Keyhole became our local for the next five days!
Clive and Richard hatched a plan to meet up early after breakfast and do a ride up to Boker Mountain which we heard was now a good sealed road with plenty of twisties…..
The mountain had a elevation of 1,080m.
We met up and rode out of town to the turn off to the mountain and stopped for the obligatory photo at the start of the accent….
Then there was a long straight road up to the toll both where we paid 50cents to go up…..
Well we new straight away Richard wasn’t going to hang around today! once we paid are toll he was off like a rocket………..the ride was awesome , nice flat bitumen and the cambers around the corners just shot you around them……we did notice it was getting cooler has we ascended and at one stage it got a bit misty and cold….before shooting us out into the sunshine at the top where we met up with Richard.
At little history about Bokor Mountain Hotel:
Work began in 1916 and from 1921 Khmer Royals, French bureaucrats and various well-to do types would ascend just over 1000m to escape the tropical heat and enjoy a taste of European weather year round. From 1925 the community was in full swing with the Bokor Palace Hotel, a post office, catholic church schoolhouse, shops and more. When the casino opened there were opulent parties and high class gatherings with the less fortunate gamblers rumored to throw themselves off the sheer cliffs at the rear of the hotel into the jungle below!
After exploring around the old Boker station which was once used has a Casino Resort
They are currently restoring it and no doubt Chinese funded has they built the super smooth road up to top where they also have a huge Casino/hotel down the road .
Richard left as he had to swap hotels ,so we agreed to meet up later as we wanted to go and explore some of the other buildings and the old Catholic church.
First off we visited these abandoned buliding that had at one stage would have been very luxurious as we could see that there was remains of very thick marble tiles that now have be long ago pillaged, we are thinking it might have had some to do with the Cambodian royal family, there was also a building that looked like army barrack and stables maybe to protect the royals? it was fascinating and we were dreaming of what it would have been like in all its glory…..
Next we got back on the bike to go and visit this old abandoned Catholic church down the road.
From the church we could see a old spire of a Wat perched on the edge of cliff which we thought we would go and investigate, well we could see why it was built here it had an awesome view and was quite old and very picturesque.
The view from the edge of the cliff out to bay of Thailand was hidden in mist and haze so we decided to come up again and maybe get a good sunset…..
We had decided to stay a couple more days as there was a few things we wanted to see before we left plus kampot is a great place to unwind…..
The next morning we hired a scooter and we rode to Kep on dusty dirt roads, riding through the farming villages with their homes and live stock getting covered in thick orange dust!
Ww arrive at kep, the sea front is lined with rows and rows of huts with hammocks swinging, with the the bay a few meters away, there are islands in the distance that look inviting.
The roads were wide and we expected the town to be big but surprisingly it was the opposite, there wasn’t much to see here, and we didn’t want to go swimming as the sea was not inviting at all 😦
There are a few restaurants and as it was lunch time we decided to pull over for a bite to eat, as our order arrived i niticed that my sandwich had mold spots on it and Clive’s burger bun was covered in mould on the bottom of the bun… yuk,
Nothing like mildew to put you off your food!
Next we set off to find the famous kampot pepper, we followed the signs, surely this is the wrong way the roads (if thats what you can call them) were mounds of dust…we carefully follow the road for about 20 minutes passing a few diggers on the way who were i’m sure making a start on some new roads, at least we would hope they are!
Finally at the pepper farm we are greeted by young..boy… after buying a drink from him we set off to see how pepper is grown..
Next was to find the caves of Phnom Slap Ta’aun which is on the way back to Kampot.
The outside of the caves are not very photogenic because the locals have turned the place into a small limestone quarry!
We pay a small entrance fee and are then taken by our guide to a small hole in the mountain.
The cave is a huge complex of passageways, amphitheatres, stalactites and strange formations.
We were glad that we brought our torches as it is quiet dark in places even though there is a small amount of light filtering through some other cave entrances.
Mystifying rock , not held by anything….
The low, mysterious lighting that gives the caves a quiet charm.
So after squeezing through a few small holes that led to a old brick type shrine that was pre Ankor that was destroyed by pol-pot.
We then head back to town on the bumpy dusty roads, our teeth were chattering, but not with the cold…lol
There’s road works all the back to the guest house, i hope they finish them soon, for the locals sake…everything they own gets covered in dust!
As we turn into one of the streets near our guest house we spot the cafe we have read about ‘Sisters 11’
We are greeted by the friendly owner of the cafe she chats away to us as she ushers us to a table inside tothe Air-con with our mouths watering we’re not sure what to have to eat, so many choices of handmade cakes and pies to order, but it was a no brainer both clive and myself opt for the lemon merginue pie (which she sells to restaurants around the area) it was amazing ;p the best dollar spent ever.
Later that evening we once again meet up with Richard at our ‘local’,
The next day we decided that today will be a lazy day! but first off to the Sister 11 cafe for breakfast Clive had his usual omelette and i had pancakes with banana, feeling rather full we head back to the guest house to catch up on some blogs as later we are riding back up to Bokor Mountain to watch the sun go down.
Later in the afternoon we are set to ride back up to Bokor, we have our rolls that we had made at the Rusty keyhole and bottles of water, at the top of the mountain we park in an area that we think may have been a house at one time as there were the tell tale signs of a concrete base, what a fantastic view they would have had been as it over looks the jungle and the Eastern Cambodian Coastline.
With our rolls devoured Clive sets about taking photos of his bike, then a little bit later we ride about 100 metres or so up to the Bokor hotel, luckily its not as busy as yesterday,after parking up we find a quiet spot in what woukd have been the hotel garden which over looks the jungle and sea, as evening sets in loads of butterflys appear settling on our arms, i love to look at butterflies but they freak me out when they come too close!!
With the sun gone and clive has got his photos we head back down the best twistie road in Cambodia back to our guest house.
The next day was just as lazy as the previous one!
Its way to hot to do anything that involves moving, so we hang around the guesthouse and caught up with emails and stuff.
That evening we meet up with Richard,and yes at the Rusty keyhole… for drinks and dinner before heading back the 200 metres to the guest house to pack up some of our gear, so we can head off to Phnom Penh tomorrow to collect a parcel that was waiting for us……
Kampot was such a easy going place to in , not so easy to leave, like a crab pot……