2/3 Looking around Kampot, Cambodia, March 2016. A pleasant enough journey – 1 3/4 hours from Sihanoukville downtown via Otres Village. I’m the only one getting off here at the drop off point, a bus depot of sorts with an office ticket window and a bus on the street.
First thing to do now is find some place to grab coffee and consult the google map. Pounding the pavements of Kampot then and immediately noticeable is that the place has a very different feel to Sihanoukville. Certainly less busy, but not sleepy by any means. Brisk is how I would describe life in the town centre, just a handful of tourists mooching around the streets which do have a certain French colonial flavour. But right now, I’ve spotted a coffee shop on the corner- its got a French name to it! French bread, French pastries and French coffee – you’d think this was France. At least the price of the coffee wasn’t on french terms, but still pricey at $1.75. So, over a very small costa-lot-coffee time to consult the google maps and get some kind of bearing on the next few hours.
Head towards the river, turn right, find the bridge and cross it – lets wee whats on the other side. A very pleasant little stomp among the villas and a host of tourist ticketing desks, cafes and several bars along the to the river side where a panoramic view of nearby hills makes for a rather nice set of photos.
The old town bridge – clearly out of bounds but since the locals had cut through the wire mesh I’m sure I’d be able to sneak across without too much drama! Closed for good reason as it happens – its been well used and some with pretty large gaps in the corroded metal plates. Across the river and a lack of tourists is apparent and its easy to see why! No smart bars, French style cafes and no English fish and chips. This is clearly the poorer side of town, and of course a more authentic side of Cambodian life – perhaps this is what I needed to see.
Another bridge to cross and another part of the town to explore as the hot sunshine beats down. There is an occasional breeze blowing up the river, a welcome cooling if just for a few seconds. Plenty of greenery, once jungle with palms and banana trees lining the street sides. Spotted among the trees, a pointed roof encrusted with something in gold – that indicates temples and with those one will find monks, and hopefully a drink of water. Yes I’m right – its a temple complex and with a school attached. Its lunch time and I’m spotted by a group of monks having their rice – yes, soon I was downing a bottle of water and eating their rice, with pumpkin and salted vegetables that I have no Idea what they were – and the monks couldn’t tell me either! It was a pretty good lunch and nice of them to share their food – thank you monks.
. Another look around here, a rather grandeur place with statues and a reclining Buddha figure. I’m surprised this place isn’t swarming with tourists! not a single tourist to be seen though.And just behind the complex is a pepper factory. Kampot pepper is famous apparently and here there’s a little shop and a few samples – red pepper, white pepper and black pepper as the girl encourages me to take a sniff – I’m not a fan of pepper usually but the red pepper corns smelt OK to me! I’m invited to take a look around the little school here – kids in the playground with a football while others loiter near the classrooms.
Time to head back to town via the market, marked clearly on google maps and Asian markets can be pretty interesting.