Thursday, January 27, 2011

10th Stop: Kampot

So, after a six hour bus journey from Phnom Penh, we arrived in Kampot. It was meant to be only four hours, but we took about ten rest stops on the way! (It was ridiculous! These Cambodians can't hack the travelling at all! A four hour bus journey is nothing, one stop in Urlingford is all you need!) And they didn't even have anything proper to eat at these stops, just bags of pineapple, mango and hard boiled eggs. Mmmm...

Anyway, Kampot. It was a strange one for us coming here. Every other city we were visiting, we had looked up lots of things for us to do and see, but not Kampot... that's partly because there actually wasn't a lot to do or see here, but also because it was highly recommended in the Lonely Planet as a sleepy, riverside town, so we were planning on just having a sleepy, riverside couple of days. And they weren't lying! As soon as we arrived, we could sense the laid back attitude. It wasn't like Bangkok or Phnom Penh, where everything was rush, rush, rush. Here, people were just going at their own pace. And we loved it! There really was a sleepy vibe to the town. On our way to the hostel actually, we saw a woman pushing a cart along the road. She obviously didn't have a horn to beep at people, so she carried a rubber chicken instead, which she'd squeek every so often. Sure, why not?!

It was hard enough to find somewhere to stay here, but luckily we came across a website for a place called the Rikitikitavi. We loved the name, and more importantly, they had rooms available! As it was so hard to find accommodation here, we weren't expecting this place to be anything special... we couldn't have been more wrong. I never thought I'd say it, but Bagan has some serious competition for best accommodation!

The room itself was definitely the nicest we've stayed in; a huge four poster bed, big screen TV with hundreds of DVDs, ensuite bathroom, kettle, electric mosquito swatter, the list goes on! We literally couldn't stop smiling when we were shown to our room. We were expecting nothing and got everything! There was a restaurant upstairs too, with complementary drinks on our arrival and a great view over the river.

The place had everything, even free wifi, although Ash's laptop had been in a coma for the past week since Ko Tao... Seeing as we wouldn't be able to get it fixed until Hong Kong, and inspired by our new surroundings, we decided to tackle the problem ourselves! We asked one of the staff members for a screwdriver, and a few minutes later the owner, Dom, came down to our room with a box full of them! And so I got to work on taking the laptop apart!

I didn't really know what I was doing or what I was looking for, but my theory was; taking things apart and then putting them back together again somehow fixes things! It comes from the same school of thought as blowing on a Super Nintendo cartridge to get it to work. (In fact, I employed both techniques in this project). It was either going to be a huge success, or a huge disaster, I did know that much. And I'm sure you've guessed by now, the fact that I'm writing about it means it was the former! I couldn't believe it! I felt so clever. Take that technology! We knew though that the next time we shut it down, it may not wake up again, so... we just never shut it down. Problem solved!

Of course, with the laptop fixed, we spent the evening catching up on some Amazing Race, it was good to be back! Afterwards we took a stroll around the town, and had a look for the ATM, and yes I mean "the" ATM, there was only one in town. Still, that's one more than Myanmar!

We got back to the hostel and were planning on having a late dinner, only to realise that the kitchen was just about to close! We made it up just in time to get our order in but unfortunately couldn't get dessert. Normally we wouldn't be that bothered, but the fact that we weren't able to have dessert just made us want it even more! We really wanted some apple tart! So much so, that we went for a look around the town to find some. It really was a tiny place, so we weren't holding out much hope of finding anywhere, but about 30 seconds down the road, we did find some tart... some tart that sprayed us with a hose! You heard me! We were walking past this "lady massage parlour", and we got soaked by some woman watering the plants! And she didn't even acknowledge us or apologise! What a bitch! We were soaked! I hope she's disappointed in herself, she just let down the whole Cambodian prostitution industry!

We woke up the next morning, after an amazing night's sleep, to our free breakfast, complete with pancakes, fruit, croissants and everything. This place was just getting better and better! Our plan for the day was to rent a couple of bikes and cycle to the Tek Chhouu rapids, one of the few touristy things to see in Kampot. (There were actually a fair few - Bokor Hill Station, Salt Fields, Pepper Plantations - but none of them sounded that interesting...). We got a map of the area in the hostel, grabbed some bikes from a local rental place, and set sail!

The rapids were only 8km away, so it shouldn't have taken us too long to get there... in the end, we probably would've been better off walking, the bikes were rubbish! The brakes were shot, which funnily enough didn't matter, seeing as we couldn't actually go fast enough to ever need them. The gears didn't work and were stuck in the lowest setting, so no matter how hard or fast you pedaled, you could only go like 1 mile an hour! It was so frustrating going so slowly. It was like walking down the street, stuck behind an old lady. And worst of all, whenever we came to even the slightest incline, the pedals just spun, so we'd have to get off and walk. It was a nightmare.

Anyway, we finally made it to the rapids, well, I say rapids, but that's probably a bit of an overstatement. In fact, no. It's just a plain lie, they weren't rapid at all! It should be called the Tek Chhouu gently flowing river. I'd like to think that we just came at the wrong time of year, and that they really are a lot more rapid during the wet season...

It was a nice place, but we were just hoping for a little more... In the end we just chilled out on some hammocks by the water's edge. The hammocks seemed to be for public use, but while we were lounging out, this little girl came up to us saying that we had to pay 2,000 Riel... We're still not sure if we actually had to pay, or if this girl was just being an opportunist, but either way, it was only like 50c, and we just didn't want the fuss.

The cycle back wasn't as painful, as we were used to the bikes at this stage, but it still took about 5 times longer than it should have. That evening, we went upstairs again for dinner (with plenty of time for dessert), and I've got to say, the food was good, but the view was amazing! While we were eating, there was a full-blown lightning storm outside! The rain was absolutely bucketing down, and it was so loud that you could barely hear the thunder! If you want to look at some rain falling, see here:

(Side note: I also added a couple of video links to the other entries, see Phnom Penh and Bangkok part two!)

And that was pretty much it for our short stay in Kampot, As I said, it's only a small town, but we really liked it! The next morning we got up and wolfed down our breakfast, so as not to be late for the bus, which happened to be about 40mins late itself... Next stop Battambang!

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