Picturesque riverport

Trip Start Feb 17, 2007
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Trip End Apr 13, 2012


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Friday, April 15, 2011

Hello again,

Kampot is a quiet, small, well-preserved French town along a river.  The beauty is that it escaped the ravages of the Khmer Rouge civil war.  And has since eluded many tourists.  Architecturally and culturally, it's a nice place to relax.

Some passengers have asked what there is to do in Kampot.  Honestly, not a lot.  You can tour the nearby sites within a day or two: French hill station and prison, fish sauce factory, Phnom Sasear and Phnom Chhnork caves, Cham fishing village and the Elephant Mountains.  They're interesting sites, but after wards I still want to return to Kampot.  What's most appealing, is the ambiance of the town itself - one of those places you just want to stay a bit longer.

Walking through Kampot, the first thing I noticed was the immaculate condition of the French colonial villas.  Sparkling!  I haven't seen buildings from the Sihanouk era in such good condition anywhere else in the country.  Apparently, Kampot is what Phnom Penh looked like before 1975.  Seeing at these buildings, I have to stop and imagine.  How could you expand this to a city of 2 million people?

A walking tour here is slow and leisurely, one of the longest in any of our itineraries.  We also passed a 1960's movie theater, quickly identifiable by its size and decor.  Also a bakery with a wood-fired brick oven, cooling down after its daily batch of French baguettes.  Both obviously dated, but still working as effectively as needed.

And then lastly, the local market.  One thing Kampot is famous for is peppercorns - black, green and white.  Even my friends from Vietnam ask me to pick some up when I come over here.  Also well-known and easily found here is durian.  Just follow your nose...you can smell it from across the street.  Locals describe their favorite fruit: "tastes like Heaven, smells like hell."  And interesting to visit are the jewelry shops with artisans designing and crafting items behind their display cases.

Yes, there are several local markets throughout the country.  You can find one in every village.  But for some reason, it's a little different wandering through this one.  Commerce is relaxed, even when the unusual foreigner walks through.  The locals appear to have avoided the physical and economic traumas that have affected the rest of the country. 

Kampot is definitely one of those places I want to come back again for holiday.  Life is good.  Same same back in King Sihanouk's day.

Eric
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