Kampot // Cambodia
At the base of the Elephant Mountains you’ll find an old provincial capital, known for its famous quality pepper: Kampot! During the day it’s hauntingly calm as in a ghost town. This city seems only to come to life at night (just another proof that this MUST be a ghost town!). Kampot is somehow a mix of urban and rural, full of beautiful colonial architecture and with a weakness for weird statues! Where else would you find a Durian statue?! bigsmile Just like the French colonial buildings a partially destroyed bridge, where young people like to meet, is part of the city’s appearance.
Alberto and I arrived on the first day of Songkran, the Khmer New Year’s celebration, in hope for some water action with the locals. Sadly, we had been told that the police forbid any fireworks or water games due to safety reasons. After dinner we joined one of the very few gatherings in the city square, only to realize that this was more of a corporate event rather than a Songkran party! bigsmile Nonetheless they welcomed us with beer and dried squid and made it almost impossible for us to leave again. Together we were dancing around a small table in slow-motion to utterly loud disco sounds. Fun times!
NATIONAL PARK – PHNOM BOKOR
On the next morning we rented a bike and explored the Bokor Hill Station up the Elephant Mountains. It takes around 45 minutes to get from Kampot to the top. The cool breeze was a blessing and a good way to escape the tropical heat, but after riding for hours, it even made us freeze. Anyway, it’s good to bring some long clothes, also to protect your skin from the sun or in case of an accident. You’ll never know, so better be safe! smile
The National Park is huge and has one of the best roads we’ve seen in Cambodia. Also the streets have been unfamiliar clean. bigsmile Among all those abandoned houses, we found one where a family was still living inside. Another house nearby had been used for a family get-together.
If you drive further, Bokor Hill Station offers a wonderful viewpoint next to an abandoned church, but unfortunately we couldn’t see very far because of the mist created by the ~40 degrees heat.
In the heart of the National Park is a crazy big new casino / hotel with loads of visitors (probably due to the holidays). It felt somehow awkward to find this complex right in the middle of a National Park. Hopefully they won’t destroy more of the rainforest for monetary profit. sad
Here are some photos of the old casino, which was built by the French in 1920 and abandoned in the 1940s during the Indochina War. In the 1970s it then again was abandoned by the Khmer Rouge.
PHNOM KON SAT
On our way back from Kep, we cruised around the countryside, in hope of finding some pepper fields. We couldn’t find any plants (and I started to think that this must be some kind of myth), but we came across the so-called Secret Lake and enjoyed a wonderful sunset from Phnom Kon Sat next to it. smile
From Kampot you can easily reach the small oceanside town of Kep (in about 30 to 40 minutes) and from there the relaxing island Koh Tunsay. smile