Waterfalls and French Resorts in Kampot
Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
47Trip End Jan 07, 2011
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After leaving Phnom Penh, we decided to take a bit of a detour South, to the small town of Kampot. Kampot is a quiet, riverside town, which mainly seems to be known for two things - its pepper plantations, and an old, abandoned French hillside resort. We didn't take the bus we wanted from Phnom Penh, because our guesthouse "forgot" to book it for us. Irritating, but not a huge deal - there was another one 2 hours later, which we got on.
The bus trip took about 5 hours, and was pretty uneventful - we got to Kampot, found a place to stay, and booked a trip up to the abandoned hillside resort for the next day. The resort is known as the Bokor Hill Station, and was originally built in the 1920's as a place for the French to get away from the heat of the nearby lower lying areas
The trip to the hill station was pretty interesting - we took a minibus from town with a group of about 16 folks to the entrance to the Bokor National Park (the hill station is in the park). From the entrance, we had to get onto the back of a pick-up truck that had been fitted with some benches for a ride up the hill. After about 20 minutes, the pick-up stopped, and we were told we needed to hike about an hour and a half up hill. We set off, accompanied by a park ranger carrying a semi-automatic rifle. Our guide told us not to worry about the rifle - the ranger had no intention of shooting us, but instead carried it to protect us from wild animals, which was very reassuring. (Also reassuring was when we took a break and someone from our group asked to look at the ammo clip on the rifle - it was pretty rusted.) Curiously, animal attacks must only be a concern when ascending, because on the way down, the ranger that accompanied us was armed only with a small water bottle.
After we came back out on the road, we were picked up by the same truck (which kind of made you wonder why we couldn't just have ridden the truck the whole way up), for another short trip up to the hill station
The next day, we decided that we wanted to do something a little bit more 'off the beaten track', so we talked to a tour operator in town about doing a combined bike/hike to a nearby waterfall. Well - the track we went on certainly wasn't beaten! It was just Sarah, myself and our guide, and we were told it would be a 5km bike ride to the trail, followed by an hour hike to the waterfall. After about 1.5kms, we turned off the sealed road on our (single gear, very heavy) bikes, and onto a packed dirt road. The dirt road wasn't too bad...but then it started getting fairly narrow...then it started getting very sandy. Riding a bike in sand is pretty damn hard - that's an FYI. After alternating between walking and riding for a few kilometres, we finally came to the trailhead. It had taken us almost an hour to 'ride' 5km - yikes.
Once we started walking, we saw that this was going to be another one of our classic hikes, that involves more scrambling up steep rocks than actually walking
Oh - and while we didn't visit a pepper plantation (people we talked to who had done it all described it as a fairly underwhelming experience), we did enjoy a lot of awesome food made with 'Kampot pepper'. Next up, we have a looong travel day, taking a bus back to Phnom Penh, and then on to Siem Reap...