It’s a pretty tall order to follow the serenity of Koh Rong Samloem, but next on our route round Cambodia was Kampot-officially classed as a city and a regional capital, but really it just fells like a large town.
It’s quite an odd introduction to the city as the bus makes its way in, much of the architecture is largely of French origin and it gives an impression of former affluence, however the city has definitely tired somewhat over the years-and the region suffered during the Khmer Rouge reign. Something of a monument to this period, and one of the main reference points for the town, is the old bridge that was partially bombed during the war and repaired with something of a mish mash of materials. Still, the city very much thrives on it’s industry, and is world famed for production of Kampot Pepper. Kampot is also the nearest major town to the seaside resort of Kep-which has the most amazing fresh crab market-and when combined with the Kampot Pepper you have a truly delicious dish!
The guesthouse that we stayed at in Kampot was a little outside of the centre, and to be honest with you I was a little wary of what we were getting ourselves into on the tuk tuk journey there. Basically we left the smooth roads of the city and headed onto the dirt tracks, from the dirt tracks we turned onto even rougher mud pathways, littered with massive pot holes and at some points it seemed that we were just driving through peoples homes! As the journey progressed my apprehension grew-thinking that we were really going to find ourselves sleeping in a barn with some cattle….But then we arrived, Ganesha Guesthouse, truly an absolutely gorgeous gem in the middle of acres of rice fields. If you ever find yourself going to Kampot-go here: http://www.ganesharesort.com/bar-restaurant/
The food was absolutely superb with all ingredients coming from the immediate vicinity or the garden, the setting was gorgeous with it’s very own ox-bow lake, mangrove forest and gardens that lit up with fireflies at night, and the accommodation options are fantastic-we stayed in the main house and it was brill!
As we were out of the city somewhat, the easiest way to explore was to hire a scooter and hit the roads. Being something of a backwater-the roads proved to be easy enough to navigate, and we set off to explore Kep, the Kampot pepper farms and Bokor National park.
Feeling fully recharged and ready for the next step-Phnom Penh was once again our destination. Definitely a huge change from the R&R of Koh Ron Samloem and Kampot, but we needed to head back to get our Thai visa sorted.
As expected the bus journey was relatively straight forward and we one again found ourselves in the heaving heart of the capital city. We had arranged for our superstar of a tuk tuk driver and guide to meet us from the journey, and so it was great to arrive to a smile and a hug from a familiar face.
On our return to Phnom Penh we ‘lived it up’ a bit and stayed in a hotel, and just did everything that we could to get our visas as fast as possible. This actually included circumnavigating the Thai embassy-as when we researched the process for obtaining a 60 day visa we found many reviews saying how difficult it is to deal with the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, and that it would take a minimum of four days if we were to do it ourselves. So, what do you do? Well-you go to Lucky Lucky Motorbike Shop, who will get the visa sorted for you in two days, obviously!!! Yes that’s right against all of your better instincts, we travelled to Lucky Lucky and left our passports with them to get our visas, and two days later-there we were, proud owners of 60 day passes for travel in Thailand….Well, at least we hoped we were, obviously we would find out for sure when we got to the border!!