The bus from Phnom Penh to Kampot was pretty normal, leaving fairly well on time and with the now expected stops every so often. On the way down it started raining, which it would then proceed to do for the duration of our time on the south coast!
We arrived in Kampot and walked for about 10 minutes to our hostel (the fantastically named “Pepe & The Viking”) which was right by the river in the middle of town. We’d managed to book a private double room for $6 a night, which was actually less than any dorm rooms we could find – the ones in the same place were $5 per person per night, so it was an absolute bargain. The place itself was fairly simple with 1 bathroom, hardly any guests and the woman who ran it constantly reminding us that her dad, husband and brother all had tuk-tuks so we could arrange any trips we liked through her. Our room was surprisingly big, though lacked any windows which we didn’t really mind as we’d only ever be sleeping in there.
Kampot as a town didn’t have a huge amount going on, not aided by the constant rain. It did however have a roundabout with a massive Durian in the middle of it. We spent the first day looking around the 3 or so roads that made up the main part of town & finding decent places for food before heading back for a nap (England were playing that night at 1am).
After dinner – at a place that made it’s own noodles but then didn’t cook them in any sauce, which was a little odd – we had a couple of drinks then headed back to the hostel to fill the evening with some cards & reading etc until it was time to head out to find somewhere for the match. This was harder than planned, as the iron bars had been shut across the front of the hostel, so we couldn’t get out.
After a few minutes trying to work out any other exit routes, we realised the bars weren’t actually locked, so escaped and found a bar run by an English guy that was set up for the game. He had the tennis on too, so we watched Federer lose before the place got busy and the match started. There were a surprising number of people there, and to be honest it was a bad reminder of what watching England matches in public back home can be like with a strange amount of abusive shouting at the TV with all kinds insults aimed at Croatia & everyone needing to shout their tactical advice at the screen, regardless of whether they knew anything or not! Despite this – and the result – it was actually quite good fun, but tired, we went off to bed safe in the knowledge that our future plans no longer required ensuring we were in a town that would show the football!
The next morning, we went to find somewhere for breakfast but ended up staying until about 3pm in a lovely little café. It was chucking it down so instead of trying to force it we took the opportunity to get ourselves planned up for the next few weeks aided by endless cups of loose leaf tea!
The rest of the time we spent in Kampot was a pretty similar tale. It rained and rained and rained, but we tried to get out to go up the nearby Bokor mountain for a day. It was in the Bokor national park and had pagodas, views and a waterfall towards the top so we hired scooters and up the road to the top we went.
We made many mistakes that day. The weather was grim and without realising beforehand, the mountain was actually quite big – bigger than Snowdon – so when we reached the higher parts it was very cold, very cloudy and very windy. Shorts, T-Shirt & a jacket didn’t really cut it, so we went into a hotel we found to warm up a bit. It turned out to be a lovely 5 star resort who happily fed us tea & coffee and is probably absolutely stunning when you can see anything other than cloud & driving rain out the window!
We then tried to look around the various sights but were nearly blown off the bikes, so gave up & went down. This is where we could have helped ourselves out by filling up with petrol before we set off. Neither of us had much, but it was mostly downhill so we figured we’d not be using the engine as much as the brakes & we could coast our way down as much as possible. This plan worked, and we made it to the petrol station at the bottom, though I’m not sure how as my fuel gauge had been reading empty for quite a while!
We gave up on the day at that point, so went back for some food & a hot shower. Sadly, the hot shower didn’t happen as the water in the hostel had a habit of not running, but we did find a nice bowl of noodle soup.
On one dry afternoon, we went to try & find a kayaking spot that was meant to be beautiful called Paradise Island. The ride up there was a bit of a pain with the road being incredibly muddy and slippery, but we made it to the place we had heard would rent us some kayaks in one piece. When we got there, they strongly recommended we didn’t go out as the river was very high & the people in the mountains were about to open the gates on their dam which would cause it to rise very quickly. We instead stayed for a game of pool & watched the local fishermen head out for the evening in great numbers. There must have been 70 or so identical boats all pouring down the river over the course of about 5 minutes.
So Kampot had been a bit of a failure and we decided to head the 30 minutes or so down the road to the other town down here, Kep, to see if our luck would change.