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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Lucie 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!
(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!
(May 1, 2015) Sounds like one treasured paradise
Bernadette 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
»» next Traveling story: Homestay Adventure in Cho Moi (An Giang, Vietnam)
»» back to Traveling
»» back to Homepage