Relaxing in Kampot

Manoeuvring our way through oncoming traffic along Cambodias’ Highway 3 we made our way to the Southern, sleepy town of Kampot. Despite the sketchy roads we we’re steaming across we were enjoying the tropical and green countryside of one of South East Asias most beautiful countries. 

Giant Ibis tours is the comfiest company to transport from A to B in Cambodia.

A man and his children driving home after a hard days work.

As dusk began to settle we began to see the distinctive mountains that surround Kampot province and within 15 minutes we had arrived at our hostel. We were staying in a small, enclosed homestay run by a French couple called Sarah and Thomas. They were from Lille in France and emigrated to Cambodia 2 years ago after falling in love with it on their own travels. They had done an amazing job setting up such a relaxing and peaceful space North of Kampot town. We particularly liked the hammocks beneath the straw roofs. 

The following morning we were eating breakfast and one of two local cats were climbing and jumping all over us as we were both eating. The cats didn’t look particularly mangy but they didn’t look fruitfully clean either. As Georgia picked one up off of her lap and dropped it down it scratched her ankle as blood drew from her skin. Automatically we assumed the worst and thought about how Rabies is spread via cats through the felines licking their paws and then scratching human flesh. I had heard in the area that most of the cats were vaccinated against the disease, but we decided to double check with our hosts anyway. Of course, being our luck, that particular cat had NOT been vaccinated. So, in a startled hurry we ordered a tuk tuk to take us to an English speaking hospital 9km South West of Kampot. 20 minutes later we had arrived at Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital. Now, I don’t know about you but any hospital with the word ‘Kill’ in it doesn’t really excite me as being a good omen. Regardless we checked in and waited for a doctor to see Georgia. 

We waited and waited and waited. 6 hours later we were finally seen to. Initially I was becoming frustrated as the doctor thought that we were in for Georgia’s mosquito bites, which I had to explain embarrassingly by doing ‘meow’ noises that we were in for a post exposure rabies jab from a cat. Eventually he got it and Georgia received her jab. Poor Georgia was shaking and upset whilst we were at the hospital, a combination of the side effects of anti-malarial tablets and being in a foreign hospital where signs like this are dotted around everywhere;

Eventually hailing a tuk tuk back into town we went on a discovery of Kampots best watering holes to drown the sorrows of a day spent in hospital. 5 or 6 bars down we bumped into a old university friend who we hadn’t seen in around 2 and a half years, with no acknowledgement she was travelling at all. You hear stories like this all of the time where people meet old neighbours or friends in small villages on the other side of the world. Every traveller has similar agendas I guess. After a stressful day the day before, we spent the next day doing what we had planned to do during our trip to Kampot; relax and read. In under 2 weeks time we will be working 6 hours a day, 6 days a week in Malaysia so we thought that we would enjoy the calmness of South Cambodia as much as we could. However by 4pm we both had finished our books so decided to make the most of our last night here. We went to the riverfront and paid $5 each for night time firefly river cruise. We boarded the shoddy looking boat, with its engine lumped on the deck like abandoned dishwasher on a council estate. 

It was only us and another couple from Bristol on the boat so it was quite relaxed. Everything is quiet in Cambodia around this time of year we are told. The boat cruise was nice in itself. On either side of the bank itself were thatched huts propped above the surface of water by big wooden pillars. Flower petals joyfully glided down the river after dropping from a surplus of trees adjoining the bank. The sun began to set, the air cooled and thunder and lightening began to collide against the backdrop of the Cambodia countryside. 

It made for spectacular viewing with the still pink sky setting in the distance whilst the occasional flash of lightening illuminated the sky. A few hours have passed by now and we approached a small shrub next to the embankment where we saw hundreds of minuscule lights flashing tentatively in the air. I was admittedly skeptical at first as the lights looked like nothing more that the Christmas lights you buy from Argos for Β£9.99. But as I looked closer they were indeed fireflies as they elegantly hovered around us like floating fairies. They were in fact so small that I could not get a picture on my phone, camera or Go Pro that actually showed their brightness. Sailing back I gladly watched the lightening crash throughout the night sky with that rare feeling of seeing something you’ve never seen before in your life. We spent our last evening eating the amazing Khmer food that was suffocating us with all of its glory. We have collectively decided that Khmer food is our favourite out of South East Asian foods so far. I have been hooked on Loc Lac which is a dish that is cubed beef steak in a Kampot pepper, oyster and soy sauce with garlic. Served with rice and tomatoes and lettuce. Georgia is obsessed with Vegetarian Khmer curry which is equally as tasty. Tomorrow we depart for Otres Village, a small settlement outside of party central Sihanoukville.


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