When Braydon and I arrived in Sihanoukville we had zero plans; no idea how long we would stay, or where we would go after that. After spending 5 days being beach bums, we felt it was time to move onto somewhere different. Seeing as it took us about 5 hours on a bus to get down south from Phnom Penh to the coast, we looked around to see if there was anywhere else that looked worth-while to go to nearby–cue the good old Lonely Planet guide! We read up on both Kampot and Kep, two towns within two hours of Sihanoukville, and settled on Kampot because it sounded like there was a bit more to do there than in Kep. So, picked up a bus ticket and off to Kampot!
And I’m so glad we did. We initially planned to stay two nights–one full day–in Kampot then head back to Phnom Penh, but ended up spending five full days in the lovely little river town. Our first evening we took a walk from our hotel, Moon River Lodge, into town along the river. It was about an 8 minute walk along a paved path beside the river into a small town with plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops. And one of the first things we noticed was that no one was trying to sell us things. It was absolutely different than anywhere else we’d been in Southeast Asia–usually there are people along major routes and attractions asking if you want to buy water, beer, bracelets, tuk-tuks, hats, watches, books, food–name it and there’s probably someone selling it. But not in Kampot. Not once did we have someone ask if we wanted to by X, or if we needed Y, we were completely left alone. It was bliss.
We spent our first day just wandering around the city, ending with a sunset cruise that took us down the river and out of the city into the natural quiet.
The following day we decided to rent scooters for a more fun way to get around town. Even though both of us are very experienced motorcycle riders, we had been hesitant to purchase bikes in Vietnam due to the sheer insanity of the traffic in the major centres. Kampot was a beautiful place for our first go-around with scooters–next to no traffic, small town (a.k.a. I didn’t get lost!) but still plenty to see.
After playing around getting used to our scooters and a little more exploring of the town we settled in for a delicious meal at a restaurant we discovered called Bokor Mountain Lodge Restaurant. A delicious Australian beef steak, steamed vegetables and baked potato made for an excellent meal, followed by passion fruit creme brule. I know, sounds like a strange combination, right? But, I love creme brule, and I love passion fruit, and it ended up being an excellent blend of tart and sweet.
We had several other delicious meals while in Kampot, favouring The Rusty Keyhole as a quick go-to–try their BBQ, it’s amazing. They have a Dinosaur Rib challenge, if you’re interested: 1.5kl of ribs, an hour to eat them all. Or, if you’re not up for stuffing yourself to the brim, you can share them with one, or two, or four friends.
The other absolute highlight of Kampot was a scooter tour up Bokor Mountain, in a national park just a few kilometres from the town. It featured a 36km ride up beautifully paved twisting mountain road to sights such as a waterfall and an abandoned French casino and hotel, taken over by the Khmer Rouge and finally abandoned in the early 1990’s. Watch for a follow-up post with all the photos from the stunning day!