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Traveling

Coming Back to Kampot, Cambodia Apr 12-28, 2015

Coming Back to Kampot, Cambodia

GPS waypoint: 10°36'29.7"N 104°10'43.8"E
Location: Kampot, Cambodia

Kampot Deja Vu
When my Vietnam visa expired, I defaulted back to Cambodia. But where in Cambodia? The first thing that came to mind was this quaint riverside town of Kampot near the Vietnam border where I once visited back in October 2014. I had no specific plan in Kampot except to finish up my backlogs. I simply wanted a destination after Vietnam, and Kampot seemed the right place for quiet time to accomplish a lot of work. I wonder what awaits this time though.

With a Little Help from my Friends
The 11-hour road trip was made easier by Tuyen who made arrangements for me and even gave instructions to the van driver in Ha Tien on where to drop me off. Nhung secured me a free bus fare from Ha Tien to Kampot. Thank you both! You're a life saver.

Back to Titch's Guesthouse
In Kampot, I defaulted back to Titch's Guesthouse where I stayed the last time. The $3/night dorm bed was increased to $4. The roofdeck view of Kampot River remains its main draw plus its riverside location, but the place itself needed a fix-up. Neglect was evident. I talked to the owners and I hope they seriously do something about it.

Peoplescape

peoplescape

The touristy offerings of Kampot didn't appeal as much as simply meeting people I could interact with. For the most part, I met random strangers at eating places, cafes, at my hostel, followed by a long-winded conversation....and you never see them again. It was all for the moment - as the clock ticks. It's all good - I have become used to that process.

Sara and Jennifer
I met an Italian traveler who I hung out with for the most part - Sara. We'd have coffee at Natural Coffee, meals at Capt. Chims, and take walks by the river. We would be joined after a few days by her friend, Jennifer - another Italian who came from Australia. It was a good fit - we all went to Kep on motorbikes for crab and spent time by the beach. It was good bonding until they had to leave.

Tracy
Not more than an hour after they left, Tracy, a meditator I met in Battambang, saw me eating on a bench and joined me for conversation and lunch. We hung out that entire day, biking together to the salt fields, eating Ciao Pizza for dinner and just sitting by the riverside watching boats pass by. She left Kampot after that.

Buddy and Ruth
At Veronica's Kitchen, I overheard a couple speak in Tagalog (Philippine language). Immediately, I walked up to them and said Hi. Our conversation extended for hours where we exchanged life stories about travel, career, family and Kampot. As professionals, they've established themselves outside the Philippines across a few continents for the better part of a few decades. Interestingly enough, they talked about opportunities laying there to be explored - but knowing themselves better, they had the wisdom to choose quality of life.

Odd Balls
I've come across individuals who don't seem to play the part. I randomly talked to Jessica, a young barefoot lady on the street. You could mistake her for a lost soul - turns out she owns one of the most ambitious hotels in Kampot. Another barefoot guy I shared the table with talked about sensible things about tourism footprint, and his first-hand story about 2 women travelers who were chased by 10 men in Varanasi, India - lucky ladies who survived a failed rape attempt. I asked him point blank, "Is it safe for a lone lady traveler to visit India?". His answer was unequivocally, 'No'. I had beer with a beatiful half-Brazilian, half-Swiss 20-something on a roofdeck - perhaps the most beautiful I've met in Kampot - a wonderful Euro-SoAmerican combination. It was a long-drawn conversation that spanned economics, internationalism and idealism. She was gone the following day - I don't even remember her name. Another golden morsel best left in the here-and-now, while the moment lasted. Another conversational episode with the lovely Anna, a Czech, that was engaging as it was fleeting - such is the shifting sand of a nomad. Oddly enough, given my penchant for pictures, I don't have a snapshot of these people.

Auberge du Soleil
I did my rounds talking to a few biz owners on how I can help them with my work - in exchange for a little cash or in exchange for what I need. The owner of Auberge du Soleil was interested and took me up on my offer. This got me a few day's stay at their charming hotel - a beautifully restored French Colonial house located right the heart of Kampot near the river. I enjoyed their comfortable room as much as I enjoyed their French breakfast. With my limited stay, the comfortable bed and the Kampot's hot climate, I defaulted to cocoon myself in my room and continue my work. I'll catch up on Kampot when I go back to my dorm room in my backpacker hostel.

Moneywise
Since I made a little money in Saigon (not much by any stretch of the imagination), I wasn't frantic, unlike in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Here, I still did my due diligence, talking to biz owners on how I can help out, but I only did so when I felt so - which is the ideal way of doing things. My pace was unhurried, covering my bases while getting some work done, and still getting to spend time with new acquaintances.

Kampot Staple
We're all creatures of habit. With 20 days in Kampot, I developed my own routine - Sugar cane juice many times during the day - I think it's the cheapest ($.25), natural (they press the sugar cane in front of you, squeezing all the juice out), most nutritious and best tasting drink you can find. For dinner, I usually default to Ciao Pizza...very good pizza prepared by an Italian chef in his makeshift eating place (an awning on a wall). At $3 for a basic large pizza, it's the best deal in town. His gnocchi and ravioli is equally as good. $2.50 movie at the Ecran Movie house and Tuesday night open roofdeck movie/bar/food at LightBox (if you can find it!). At only $1/24 hours, I would mostly be on my bike exploring on my own, the side streets of Kampot, sometimes with surprising eating places serving good cheap food.

Giving back to the Community
I live a privileged life - I already realized that early on. I try to give back as much as I receive. Particularly here in Kampot where I come across organizations with a community outreach program, I offer them my service for free - the least I can do.

Eden Eco Village
Unexpectedly, one of the recipients said 'thank you' by giving me a night in a 'by the river' bungalow at Eden Eco Village. I had the luxury of sleeping on top of the river as my room was on stilts. I went SUP paddling to a nearby beach - yes, it's a river with a beach for a river bank. Priceless!

Being at the Moment
As a lone traveler, I had a few fleeting conversations with other travelers - some took clearer shape as we spent more time together, but as usual, just a you begin to feel comfortable, they're already on their way to somewhere else. For travelers, it's the same repeating pattern of meeting someone and bonding together until someone leaves. It used to affect me during my early days of traveling. Now, it's simply part of the constantly changing peoplescape. The lesson that keeps repeating itself is that the current moment is golden - it may not last long, and it may not happen again. A good lesson in detachment, if you're mindful enough to observe the process.

Ending Thoughts
Kampot is special. The fact that many well-traveled expats decide to settle down here tells a lot - low crime rate, locals who are open to cultures alien to them, low cost of living, availability of medical facilities, relaxed atmosphere and friendly people. It keeps a particular type of traveler - the calm placid ones who appreciate a laid back lifestyle. Even hardcore backpackers who thrash themselves wasted in other destinations somehow find solace and recovery here. I even heard that the expats here who put up a business agreed amongst themselves that nobody came to Kampot to get rich - so there is no need to be greedy about anything. No need for a dog-eat-dog behavior. They even voluntarily close business on some days (usually Tuesday) to give others a chance to make money. Greedy business is frowned upon. It's a forgiving place (for lack of a better word).

This is my 2nd visit and it certainly will not be my last. Thank you Kampot!

--- TheLoneRider

Next stop: Ha Tien, Vietnam

location markers

bunk beds at Titch's Guesthouse - my residence for the most part of Kampot open roofdeck at Titch's Guesthouse with river view at Captain Chims for good value eats Seafood Amok at Captain Chims
noodle pulling guy at Ecran with Tracy and Sara tuk-tuk guy by the Durian roundabout if you eat where the locals eat, you could have something like this for $1 - $.75 for the meal and $.25 for the sugar cane juice
the Governor's Mansion - I hear people say he's doing a good job with Italian travelers, Jennifer and Sara at the Kep crab market - they harvest crabs from the sea and keep them alive with the trap in the water by the market crab catch
world-famous Kampot Pepper at the market fried crab in Kampot Pepper sauce...a Kep specialty $1.25 if you eat where the locals eat - this one is just across from Captain Chims biking through the salt fields
salt field at sunset biking with Tracy along the salt fields Banh Mi guy at Kampot Market, a long baguette is $.25 Durian vendor...season is just starting and price is still high at $5/kilo for the bigger variety
used bikes at the market sell from $45 - 55 riverside park bench along the Kampot River my next address at the Auberge du Soleil - a beautifully restored French Colonial house this is a typical eating place for locals - unpretentious and spartan, but food is good and cheap
despite open invites to nice people I meet in Kampot to be my breakfast guest, it remains lonely table for just one my first day breakfast at Auberge du Soleil - panne au chocolat, croissant, fruit plate, juice, etc. at the Kampot Espresso Cafe my personalized Cricket Banh Mi sandwich
exploring Kampot on a bike - $1 per 24 hours best value pizza at Ciao Ristoranti - $3 for a large pizza. Try the Ravioli and Gnocci as well. Wine at $1.75/glass meeting Sandra - check-out her partner's sandwiches, the Chef in Flip Flops (Facebook) meeting Clara (middle) at Ciao Ristoranti
whatever shit or bliss you have at the current moment is part of the karmic process. But still, I can't help but feel that life is not fair when I see tough times for the seemingly innocent. I saw this old woman pulling a heavy cart perhaps for minimum wage while I enjoyed my hotel and croissant by punching a few keys on my laptop at Auberge du Soleil, I look forward to my mornings with my comfortable room, I just stayed there to catch up on my backlog Lok Lak, a staple Khmer dish, at Malay's Restaurant - $4
trying out local eating places a fenced vacant lot with an open gate - guess what? no squatters! every corn of Kadode Pepper is meticulously inspected by LinkFarm, authorized distributor for Kadode Peppers $1.25 chicken bbq by the river
an array of nipa hut cottages along the river - locals frequent this place by the rapids. Foreigners have to pay $1 on the road leading to it. rest and recreation with the locals at the Rapids at the Kampot Zoo - this ape wanted to be touched a magnificent Hornbill - you could take pictures up close with the animals
those claws by the small Asian Bear can shred you to pieces you could almost touch the Leopard a curious Cuckatoo I was petting this elephant's trunk when it blew it's 'nose' on me
you can't pay me enough to ride this ferris wheel - it's already abandoned :) at the Canada Zoo, with the layered protection from the wild animals, you would need a pair of binoculars to see the animals. Here at Kampot Zoo, you could practically shake hands with this lioness (if you have small hands to go through the chain link fence) river chillout at the Green House balcony with a river view at Green House
ear muffs deaden the noise for a longer sleep live band with a rock and roll beat and a Khmer singer belting out Khmer psychedelic tunes as an Observer at Ruth's class I gave free web service to some community outreach organizations - my way of giving back to the community. One of them unexpectedly said thank you by offering me a one night stay at the Eden Eco Village
cottages of Eden Eco Village are on stilts by the Kampot River meeting up with Mark and girlfriend taking a ride with my flat bicycle on this motor cart getting my flat fixed to catch my 9:30am bus to Ha Tien, Vietnam

More Information about Kampot

Cambodia Blogs by TheLoneRider

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Reader Comments:

Lucie Anna SebankovaLucie Anna Sebankova
(May 1, 2015) oh Kampot, I left it a few hours ago and already missing it! Should I buy a "I love (place)" type of Tshirt, I go for Kampot, the best place in Cambodia...and now Im gonna read the blog, thanks for the post!

Buddy PenanoBuddy Penano
(May 1, 2015) It was refreshing to read your blog bro Gigit as if we were just traveling beside you...Write some more soon OK!? Hope to see you back in Kampot... Take care!

Marie RomanMarie Roman
(May 1, 2015) Sounds like one treasured paradise

Bernadette Wan PacanaBernadette Wan Pacana
(Apr 30, 2015) Where is the wind taking you now? Unexpected makes life thrilling! Have fun and take care

Apr 12-28, 2015

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