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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Kampot Pepper

We left Shianokville on Saturday and came to a little riverside village 2 hours down the coast of Cambodia called Kampot. The bus journey here wasn’t so pleasant seems they had over booked the mini bus so it was a case of playing sardines, this also meant they didn’t have enough room to fit everyone’s bags in the bus so we drove the whole 2 hours with the boat open and the bags secured in by rope!! We also made the mistake of going for a morning run before getting the bus which meant due to having to drink loads after the run as it was already over 30 degrees before 11am I was desperate for the toilet the entire way!

We almost immediately loved it here. It’s so much quieter and calmer than everywhere else we’ve seen in Cambodia. There seems to be a lot of French influence to the town with houses with shutters on the windows and baguette stalls on the streets. It’s also a lot cleaner and tidier and we have yet to be asked for money by anyone on the street.

We checked into a gorgeous guesthouse straight away, it’s very, very clean, the rooms are 10 dollars a night (approx £6.25 between us) and the room is massive (should really be used as a dorm room) with 2 double beds and a hot shower! We then set out exploring the village. We found a lovely little family run café (Chim’s family café) where we had the best Cambodian food yet, so far we haven’t been that impressed with Cambodian cuisine. Mister Alex had noodle soup and it was just to die for, so good that we went there for tea again last night just so I could have the soup myself! We then had a nice little walk along the river before cracking open a bottle of wine we’d bought for 4 dollars, (wine has become a very rare treat since being away as, although beer and cocktails are cheap, wine tends to be expensive and when we have found somewhere reasonable it hasn’t been that great! But, maybe due to the French influence, wine seems to be very available here so much so that there’s a wine shop with good, cheap wine next door to our guesthouse!! Heaven)! Later that evening we took a walk down the next street as earlier we had noticed that the street had been closed off to traffic and they were setting up chairs and tables with decorations on for a wedding reception. At the end of all the chairs was a little stage which when we went round the other side was on the back of a truck, basically it’s a mobile wedding reception! When we got there they were all dancing traditional dance (very slow). The women looked amazing, they all wear sparkly bright dresses but I couldn’t work out which was the bride as they wear any colour here!

Yesterday morning we got up early as we had booked on a day trip. We thought there would be a big group of us but it turned out we had our own private tour guide and tuck tuck! First we went to a salt farm. Here they have fields dug out which they pump seawater into. The water is left for a week and as long as it doesn’t rain the salt from the water crystallises so nets can then be used to get the salt out of the water. This is then stored in big barns, (when we went in one it looked like the pictures everyone’s putting on facebook of the snow back home at the moment)! The salt is then sold all over Cambodia and the neighbouring countries. The workers here looked very poor and we couldn’t believe it when we were told they only make 5 US dollars a day! As the salt farms can only be used during the dry season the workers then work on the rice paddies during the rainy season.
We were then taken to a temple set in a cave. The cave had natural formations inside, which looked like an elephant, eagle, pig and cow and the shrine in it was built before Angkor Wat! The best thing about this cave temple though was the journey to and from the cave was through a very rural farming village. It was so interesting to see the houses and the workers in the field. They had big pigs and cows wandering around the garden, the houses were all on stilts for when it floods in the rainy season but at the moment the area under the house is used as a communal area. It all felt a little bit like going back in time- they use cows to plough the fields like we used to use horses, although it’s obviously a bit different as it never gets that cold here even in the rainy season.

Kampot is known for it’s pepper so our final stop was a pepper plantation. I don’t know if it’s just us but we didn’t know where pepper came from or how it was made or anything until the trip. It’s actually grown on vine trees; it looked a little bit like a vineyard. The pepper grows on little stems coming off the tree that is then picked by the workers. It’s originally green but after being left to dry out the outacasing can be removed and there’s the peppercorn that can go straight in the grinder at home or can be crushed before being sold to go in a shaker pot, easy peasy but something we didn’t know!

During the whole trip the tuck tuck appeared to be dying. It was making very unhealthy noises and as we left the pepper plantation, so being at the furthest point away from the guesthouse (30km), it gave up!! The driver eventually got it started but wasn’t able to use second gear so had to jump from first to third plus it was struggling so much that at two points mister Alex had to jump out and give it a push then run and jump back in again when it got going! We were really surprised it actually got us back but then even more surprised when the driver offered to take us somewhere else today! Maybe he gets a free upgrade when he runs this one into the ground!

We finished the day with a little boat ride down the Mekong River for sunset. It was really beautiful, the boat went down the river until it reached the tip of joining the sea and then pulled onto a little bit of beach jutting out on one side of the river edges so we could get off and watch the sun go down. It was then back to Chim’s for tea so I could have the soup I’d been dreaming of since Mister Al had it for lunch the day before. However, just before we went for tea Mister Alex came over feeling ill and he had to go back to the guesthouse before the food even arrived. Seems like I passed the poorly tummy bug onto him!! Luckily after a nights rest he feels much better today so we are going to head to our final stop in Cambodia after breakfast just 25km down the road to Kep, a little beach resort.

Miss everyone lots, lots of love xxxxxx

Just remembered when we were in Sihanokville I finally got to see the new twilight movie!!! (It came out literally about 5 days after we came away). It was in a “cinema” across from our guesthouse but was actually private rooms that were a lot like a front room at home with sofas and cushions and a massive tv with surround sound! So after a long wait I actually ended up seeing it in the coolest, comfiest cinema ever, snuggled up to mister Al with our crisps, sweets, chocolate and chocolate milk!!!  xxxxx

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you had fun in Kampot! Glad to hear it, we love our little town.