Quiet Kampot

Trip Start Aug 21, 2003
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Trip End Ongoing


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Tuesday, October 7, 2003

After a lot of city, we decided to go somewhere quieter so we headed south to Kampot, a small provincial town close to the southern coast of Cambodia. Not much to say about this place, but it was actually very lovely, and we were some of the only tourists. Our guesthouse was run by a group of guys around our age and they were very hospitable. It was located right on the edge of the river, and so every evening we had a perfect view of the sun setting over the Elephant Mountains. We rented another 250cc dirtbike to head up Bokor Mountain, on top of which the French built a hilltop retreat during the 1960s. It is also a national park. The dirtbike is awesome! I (Lauren) have been getting plenty of practice on my motorcycling skills (not in the city, it is too hectic), such as shifting gears and manuveuring, because there are always obstacles to dodge, like water buffaloes, cows, chickens, and children running into the road. I couldn't drive up Bokor Mountain (I tried and immediately crashed), but I did drive from Kampot to the mountain and I am getting much better!

Anyway, the first time we attempted the mountain we ran out of gas halfway up and had to roll back down. Luckily everyone in Cambodia has petrol and so the rangers at the bottom helped us out. We decided to make our next attempt the next day with a full tank of gas. We got up early and headed for the mountain. The road up was a very narrow, pitted channel, a rock slide waiting to happen. Full of very big gravel, mud, broken pavement and the like. Jack obviously loved it. I, on the other hand, bounced around a lot on the back of the seat, more specifically on a metal bar. Good thing I have a big, squishy butt. It took 3 hours to make it to the top. On the way up the sky was blue and the sun was strong. At the top it was very cold and pouring rain. We didn't bring any extra clothes. Bokor Mountain Retreat consists of the ruins of a casino/hotel, church, a couple of other unidentifiable buildings, and a former royal residence. We found refuge in the church from the rain but were shivering uncontrollably. Jack, being the firebug that he is, found some old candle wax on the altar and proceeded to build a warming fire with wood gathered from the old church's kitchen. We huddled around the fire for a while and then decided to head back down once the rain stopped. But seeing the ruins of the French's playground was pretty cool. The hotel is strangely reminiscent of the hotel in The Shining. There are lots of war relics around, as this mountain also served as one of the last strongholds of the Khmer Rouge. One the way down the mountain, I spotted a baby elephant! Jumped off the bike and ran back to see him running into the jungle. Jack didn't get off the bike quick enough to see him. I'm not sure he believes me?

We have sadly left Cambodia and are now in Chau Doc, Vietnam. Not sure what we will do now, but will probably explore the Mekong Delta before heading to Saigon. We are staying at a beautiful guesthouse on a mountain 5 km out of town, which has all recent American movies on DVD. We may stay for a while. They also have free bicycles, which is how we got to this Internet cafe! We have just discovered that it is taking way too long to upload pictures, so if you are reading these entries and there are no pictures, please check back soon as we do have some great pictures and will upload them soon.
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