The World's Best Pepper is best with Fresh Crab!
Trip Start Jan 11, 2011
60Trip End Jun 01, 2011
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Where I stayed
The bus ride was reasonably comfortable. They were playing local kung-fu movies where I could follow the plot easily even if I didn't understand a word.
Once we arrived in Kampot we were surrounded by local tuk-tuk drivers demanding we go with them. After some confusion, we finally found the one for our hotel and headed out. The hotel was a little outside of the city and was called the "Mango Tree" for all the mangoes growing on the property. Beautiful location on the river. That evening we just relaxed and tried to go to sleep early but couldn't b/c there was a wedding party with music blasting until the wee hours
The next day, a bit exhausted, we took some bikes and went into town to look around. There isn't too much in Kampot to be honest. A little local market and a few small restaurants. Other than that, it's a small farming town. I continued biking around the city while Sonia headed back to the guesthouse. A little later she calls to warn me that some mean thunderheads are moving in and I should head back. At the time I was already heading back having seen the same thing.
But ten minutes later I get another call that she's decided to go kayaking and is being towed up the river! I guess if you are already on the water, a little rain doesn't matter.
That evening we went out on a boat from the guesthouse to see the
fireflies. In this section of the world, the fireflies like to
congregate on various trees. It makes for a pretty interesting sight
(sorry -- did not bring cameras so no pictures). In addition to the beautiful fireflies, the water glowed with phosphorescent algae
made *no* mention of the bio-phosphorescent river thinking it wasn't important. In Puerto
Rico we took trips *just* to see this! I think they will now. They
had hired a Spanish girl to help them with marketing. Sonia and she
had their heads together for some time discussing ways in which the whole experience could be improved. Sonia enjoyed speaking Spanish for the first time in SE Asia by the way.
That night was again rather rough. Being in the countryside, there's not much to do once the sun goes down and the mosquitoes make you reluctant to venture outside of the netting in the room. Another house was having another party and even though they were some distance away, the sound of the music came through the fields and into the room until well past 2AM.
The next morning, rather groggy we decided to switch hotels. Our new hotel was called Rikki Tiki Tavi (yes, from the book) and was
probably one of the best hotels we'd stayed in on the trip. Great
food, wonderful soft beds -- your average bed in Asia has a lot in
common with a board or rock -- and DVD players with a huge selection of
DVDs to choose from
After we were situated into our new hotel, we decided to take a tour of Kep. Before the Khmer Rouge, Kep was the playground of the rich and powerful in Cambodia. Many mansions were built there and it was known for its crabs. During the war Kep was decimated and after the Vietnamese invasion many of the mansions were stripped even further by the locals in order to sell or use the parts. The place still hasn't recovered, although all the properties are now owned by well-connected speculators hoping for a revival.
Getting to Kep was somewhat of a letdown in that we were expecting to see more. There is a decent but not spectacular beach. The crab market was running but not especially active.
But that opinion changed when I sat down to a lunch of crabs. Simply put, the best I've *ever* had in my life. And this is from someone who grew up eating Maryland Crab. I enjoyed this Cambodian version of fresh crab pulled from cages kept in the ocean and then cooked with fresh Kampot green peppers
We hung out in Kep for the rest of the afternoon, working on the laptop and watching the local scenery.
The next morning we took another trip to see the Kampot pepper plantations and back to Kep for more crabs. Kampot pepper use to be THE pepper in the entire world. Any decent French restaurant would not be caught dead without it. But the plantations were destroyed by the Khmer Rouge and have only now begun producing enough for some minimal export.
Sonia and I are planning to order some just before we return -- we found a connection. Let us know if you want to join in the order. The pepper itself isn't that expensive, but the DHL shipping is nearly the same cost as the pepper!!
When we got back to Kep the one place I'd eaten crabs at was closed, so we tried the one next to it. Decent, but not nearly as good. So be warned! If you eat crabs in Kep, be sure to chose the right place. The one we liked is the famous location for crabs in Kep -- most of the drivers know it and will take you there.
Kampot and Kep complete, we decided to cross into Vietnam by and and take the ferry to Pho Quoc -- supposedly the next Phuket.