A different pace of life.
29.01.2012 - 31.01.2012 33 °C
A short dash in the mini bus deposited us in Kampot and the excellent Mea Culpa guesthouse / pizzeria. So good in fact that Lynne had to eat pizza two nights in a row at the restaurant.
Kampot is a small provincial town set by an estuary. There isn't much to do but thats just fine as its slow pace and quirky buildings are the main draw.
In the afternoon we visited Epic Arts.http://www.epicarts.org.uk . Epic Arts is a disability arts charity established in 2001 and working in the UK, Cambodia and China. They reach out to those with physical and learning disabilities of all ages and backgrounds, through workshops in dance, drama, visual arts, crafts, photography, music, and story-telling. A very good cause with some excellent food at their cafe. There work in such a poor area is vital. For example there was a kid at the centre who had Down's. For the first 19 years of his life he was treated as deaf and dumb by the community. With Epic arts he was making and selling awesome greeting cards, as well as running around with a toy gun and having a laugh while we were there.
On our first full day we borrowed some bikes and went to the market. This was very much a traditional, functioning market. While it didn't boast the huge range of horrors a good Cantonese market does, I haven't ever quite been assaulted by so many smells, tastes, sounds and feelings in such a place before. It was most probably heightened by the low tarpaulin draped as a make shift roof by the sellers. The roof certainly kept the sellers amused as "Giant Justin" stooped through each section. Much finger pointing and laughing! A great experience though.
After a quick lunch we decided to go exploring a bit on our bikes and over a few bridges came a cross a Buddhist temple with some sort of large scale blessing on the go. It was lovely to be off the beaten track. People came up to talk solely because they were interested rather than wanting the green dollar. An old monk motioned us to go inside and have a look around. He then pushed his youngest disciple in after us to clearly try and practice his English. The inside of the temple was covered in the stories of the Buddha painted in the most beautiful vivid colours.
The next day saw us get the Tuk Tuk out of there. We went 25k east to Kep. Kep is famous for being a ghost town and for its crab. It was a popular holiday retreat with the French who built lavish country houses. However the war meant they were abandoned in the 60's and the town largely forgotten about. Nature did what it does best and reclaimed them. As we walked around town shells of once grand houses peer through the trees and bushes. Unfortunately for this part of Kep's selling point the town seems to have been rediscovered and lots of new hotels have sprung up too. It has lost a lot of the charm which it has been famous for. However the second selling point turned out to be one of the best meals ever. Crab with Kampot green pepper. Never did i think I would happily munch through whole pepper cloves. Seriously delicious.
After securing Vietnamese visas (through a dodgy guy we gave $100 dollars to and both our passports in Sihanoukville) we make our way to Vietnam tomorrow. I will be returning after 13 yrs. My last trip as a naive 18 years old. The naive 31 year old can't wait to see how it has and hasn't changed.