Travelogue: Kampot

After finishing Phnom Penh, Battambang, and Siem Reap, I traveled to Kampot, a laid back town in southern Cambodia, known primarily as a place to chill and relax near the beach. Most of my fellow backpackers would choose to go to Sihanoukville, but I’ve heard it is too much of a drugs and partying town for my tastes, so I avoided Sihanoukville and visited Kampot  instead. I was quite happy spending a couple days lounging about in Kampot and seeing the sight sof Bokor mountain.
Kampot - panorama river side 1 Kampot - panorama Bokor mountain view 2

The first thing that struck me when entering Kampot, is the durian statue / durian roundabout. It’s one of those “huh?” moments – somebody was clearly in an altered state of mind when they decided that this was a good idea.
Kampot - durian roundabout

Kampot doesn’t really have any beaches, but it has a very nice riverfront street:
Kampot - panorama river side 2

The sunset over the river is quite picturesque too!
Kampot - river side sunset 1 Kampot - river side sunset 2

There isn’t much to see around Kampot – the one thing is Bokor mountain, a scenic mountain a ways away from the city, accessible by tour group (yuck) and motorbike. I chose to go by motorbike. The road to Bokor is quite refreshing – smooth roads, the wind through your hair, the sun shining down.
Kampot - road to Bokor 1

The road up the mountains is quite nice, but somewhat dusty. When you get towards the top of the mountain, you’re motorbiking through the clouds!
Kampot - panorama road to Bokor
Kampot - Bokor mountain road 1 Kampot - Bokor mountain road 2

Did I mention the views?
Kampot - panorama Bokor mountain view 1

There’s not many places to see at the top of Bokor mountain, but some of the more interesting ones were:
– Some kind of… female Buddha?
Kampot - Bokor female buddha

– A casino resort. Built on top of a mountain. 30 minutes away from anything of interest. Completely deserted.
Kampot - Bokor empty casino resort

– An old French church. Before the Khmer Rouge kicked the French out of Cambodia, Bokor was somewhat of a resort area, where the French came to relax and unwind.
Kampot - Bokor old church

– Near the old French church, a group of black Christians, singing in a circle?
Kampot - Bokor african Christian dance

– A temple (wat):
Kampot - Bokor mountain view wat 1 Kampot - Bokor mountain wat 2

– An old hotel, abandoned but still intact.

The only problem I ran into was coming down the mountain – while coming down and going through a turn, I discovered that the rear brakes on my bike were completely dead.  A bad time to make such a discovery, going downhill at high speeds and turning.  My bike wiped out, I got myself a nasty road rash – the southeast Asian backpacker’s tattoo.  Thankfully, it was fairly small, and I could treat myself very easily.
Kampot - Bokor motorcycle crash

– Embryo egg (balut)! It’s a fertilized egg, given time to develop, before being cooked and eaten. And it tastes pretty good too – like a cross between a standard boiled egg and chicken. Just don’t think about it too much. Best with lemon, salt, and pepper.
Kampot - embryo egg

– I finally figured out why coconuts sometimes look green, smooth, and round, and sometimes brown, rough, and hairy. It’s the same coconut, but with the sides chopped off!
Kampot - coconut cutting

– Lunch of champions (I have no idea what this is, I just pointed to a random item on the menu).
Kampot - lunch

Bits and bobs:
– Kampot prison.  This does not look like a fun place to do time.
Kampot prison

– This is a lot of cash. Or at least, it looks like a lot of cash. All those bills probably add up to around $100 USD. The problem with Cambodian money is that you can have an entire wallet stuffed full of bills, and it’ll only be worth $5.
Kampot - stacks of money

– Kampot market: a traditional market. Every time has at least one of these markets, and I’ve noticed that they’re usually divided in two – a wet market and a dry market.
traditional market dry market traditional market wet market

– While exploring around, I found a ton of people playing Chinese chess. A ton of old men, sitting around, playing Chinese chess, and drinking coffee.  I sat and watched them for a bit.  Does that make me an old man?
chinese chess

Overall, I’m quite happy with my decision to skip Sihanoukville and visit Kampot – though I’m somewhat sad I missed Koh Kong off the coast of Sihanoukville.  While here, I also made a quick day trip to Kep (by tuktuk), before heading off to Vietnam for Tet (lunar new years!)
Kampot - tuktuk to Kep

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