Kampot, Kampot… Well… Where do I start?! Like our disastrous stay in Otres Beach, we didn’t have the best luck in the Cambodian town of Kampot!
I guess I’ll start at the beginning. After a few nights on the lovely island of Koh Rong we decided it was time to head back to mainland, so we got the 12.30 return ferry to Sihanoukville. This was honestly one of the worst journeys – it was only a small boat and it was super choppy! We both sat there pretty much in silence trying not to be sick for a good 45 minutes! Once back at the dock we piled onto a bus back to the town centre where we’d bought a ticket for a bus to Kampot ($5 each!). A little minibus came, to which about 12 of us crammed in to including bags. One of the girls complained there wasn’t enough room to which she was assured that this bus was just meet another bus and split the group in 2. We did meet another bus, but rather than split the group we just all got transferred to this new bus! Not too sure why, wasted some time but hey ho. It was a squeeze but luckily the journey was only 2 hours, so off we went!
After a journey of listening to a vegan debating her views with a boy who likes to hunt (this proves for very interesting listening) we arrived in the town of Kampot. We’d come here to visit Bokor National Park & Arcadia, as James had been to both before and Arcadia looked like so much fun! It’s a hostel with a some cool stuff like slides on the river. We also thought that Kampot would be a good place to buy a bike (which we did!).
We were staying in the Kampong Bay Makeng Guesthouse which I can’t recommend more! The room was so clean, and it felt like such a luxury to have walls that actually met the ceiling! After staying in beach-y wooden shacks with the constant threat of mosquitos (we won’t even talk about rats), it was so good to stay in a proper hotel room. And it had a duvet! You don’t realise how much you miss these things..
We hired a moped from the Guesthouse for $5 and headed down the river to find somewhere to eat. We were drawn into Rikiviti by how beautiful it looked! Overlooking the river and designed with a Mediterranean theme, we couldn’t resist dinner surrounded by plants and fairy lights. James had the Chicken Amok, which was the first time either of us had ordered this Cambodian curry and we really regretted not trying it sooner – it was amazing! I had the special which was a Chicken Pesto Pasta… home comforts!
We had a wander around the shops before heading back to the hotel. We were going to head for some drinks but I wasn’t feeling great, so we put that plan on hold for tomorrow! Or at least, planned to.
The next morning I woke up with the most agonising tummy ache! It literally felt like thousands of knives twisting and turning inside my stomach. I thought it may be food poisoning even though our meal the night before was amazing! After trying to eat and being sick, I wasn’t sure what to do but it definitely wasn’t go up a mountain! Obviously this put our plans on hold, so I had a not so exciting day in bed, hoping I’d wake up feeling better the next day!
Unfortunately, I didn’t. I did feel a bit better, but definitely still not up for what we had planned. Another day in bed for me! I did try and venture out for some food, but that idea didn’t last too long. Though, at least I got some fresh air and we had a pretty walk along the river! The most beautiful thing I’d found about Kampot was the incredible mountains in the distance. This was the first time we’d seen mountains since we’d been away, and they were a beautiful backdrop against the river.
Whilst we’d been in Kampot we’d been speaking to a man on Facebook about possibly purchasing his motorbike, and that night he brought it to meet us and we bought it! So at least there had been a positive to our time here. Everyone, meet our lovely Honda Win!
That night we walked into town to have a look for helmets, but all the helmet shops were closed. I decided to get a matcha green tea iced latte thing to try and liven me up a bit. It tasted a bit weird and it was so sweet, but at least it looked cool!
I felt a bit better so we got some food from the market to take back to the room with us. This was also the first time I’d seen the Durian roundabout at night – it looks so much prettier when it’s lit up. Kampot is famous for this roundabout, as Durian fruits are very popular here but banned from many public places due to their smell! The market was opposite the roundabout, so after a wander around the stalls we got our dinner. I went for noodle soup – something not too crazy that may upset my stomach! Top tip. Don’t get a noodle soup to take a way! It comes with the noodles in a box, the soup and meat in a bag and the leaves separate. Don’t get me wrong – it was amazing. But you need a bowl to eat it! Luckily we grabbed one from reception but the process of getting everything together into the bowl was very, very messy! I ate my soup, cleaned up the mess I’d made and climbed back into the bed I’d become so familiar with. We’d originally only booked two nights but had added another due to me being ill. I definitely felt better that evening though, finally!
The next morning we walked into town to go helmet shopping! I’m such a child, so this was definitely way more exciting for me then it would’ve been for any normal person. After trying on a few different shades of pink hello kitty helmets (very particular) I ended up going for a plain pink one as it fit perfectly (safety first!). James got a black one despite my trying to make him get something fun. It was really hot today, and we decided to walk through the market to have a look. Bad decision, as we got stuck in the fish section which really wasn’t what I wanted to be inhaling when I hadn’t been feeling 100%! We headed back to the hotel along the river, which had become my favourite part of Kampot.
Once back at the hotel we sorted ourselves out and headed to Bokor National Park. This was my first time on the motorbike and it was great! The sun was shining, I felt much better and we had our new bike and helmets. Everything was going great..
As we reached the arch into Bokor National Park, it started to chuck it down with rain, literally out of nowhere. The weather had changed so suddenly! Luckily I’d brought our pac a macs so we put these on and carried on up the road round the mountain. I’d read that it’s known for having weather that changes really suddenly and we didn’t really mind! At least we had our macs.
We carried on this road for miles as it twisted round the bends of the mountain. You’d turn a corner and be faced with the most amazing views of Kampot! It really was beautiful. Our first stop was the big Buddha statue, which is an incredibly huge blue buddha on the top of a hill. Unfortunately, this is where it all started to go wrong for me! As I jumped off the back of the bike, I burnt my leg on the exhaust. We’d been driving mopeds which have exhaust covers, so it hadn’t even crossed my mind to be aware of this. As I jumped up and down in pain a man saw, who came over and put toothpaste on the burn to cool it. It hurt so much! Luckily the toothpaste did cool the initial burning sensation, so we headed up to see the Buddha.
My mood had dramatically gone downhill – more as I was annoyed at myself for the burn. It could’ve so easily been prevented if I’d just hopped off the other side of the bike! By this point I could see a large area of skin go red around the now white part that had actually hit the exhaust. I tried not to think about it, got back on the bike and headed further up the mountain.
We’d come here to see the abandoned casino, as this was something James did when he was travelling two years ago and said was definitely worth the trip! As we got higher up, the mist was so bad that we could barely see a few metres in front of us as we drove. We finally made it to our end destination, only to find out that the once abandoned casino had now been renovated into a hotel! We couldn’t see the actual building due to the visibility, so drove though the arch and parked the bike up only to realise that it had changed. I was so gutted! I’d researched this on Pinterest before and seen so many cool posts of people in the casino, which you could freely walk around in. Despite my research, I hadn’t come across anything to tell me that it had been renovated – but I guess I wasn’t looking for this so I wouldn’t have! Feeling disappointed, we decided to head back down the mountain. By this point I was feeling pretty defeated, and wondering what the whole point to this trip had been – we’d come to see something that was no longer there. I’d got burnt for nothing!
As we drove down it started to clear up, meaning we could once again see the incredible views of Kampot and further from the height we were at. The toothpaste’s cooling had started to wear off and the wind hitting my leg as we drove was making it hurt so much more. Trust me to hurt myself in the middle of a national park, at the top of a mountain! But at least we were on our way back down now, the end was in sight. This was until we got near the bottom, when the minibus driving in front of us swerved to avoid something in the road. As we approached, we realised this was a snake! Lying pretty much across the entire width of the road was a bright green snake, it’s head up staring right at us. Rather than swerve like the minibus in front, James decided to stop. Why! I was literally terrified – as if this day hadn’t had enough bad luck, I was not wanting to come face to face with a snake. He finally drove around it, and my heart could return to its normal rhythm.
As we got to the bottom the road started to run flat again, so I asked James to quickly pull over for a little break. The wind hitting my leg had made it feel like it was getting wind burn, which on top of a normal burn wasn’t ideal! We hopped off the bike to check on it, when a cow came running across the road. Did I ever mention, I’m also scared of cows? I think this fear stems from being chased by a bull when I was about eight, and I know that cows and bulls aren’t the same but they’re both very big and therefore scary (to me)! It turned out this particular cow was being chased by another cow, and both were headed in our direction whilst moo-ing crazily. This really was the cherry on top of the cake! James said, he’d never seen anyone jump on to the back of a bike as quick as I did that day. We sped off down the road, and finally rejoined the main road back to Kampot. I never ever thought I’d be so happy to be entering the town. We stopped at a place on the way back for some lunch, then headed to a pharmacy to buy some gauze to cover my leg. I spent the whole of lunch googling what to do with an exhaust burn, as part of my panic was the fact that I’d never burnt myself this badly. At least if I was at home I could ask my mum or go to a doctor, but out here I had to rely on google for now! We headed back to our guesthouse after this to wash the burn and wrap it up. What a nightmare of a day!
That night we headed out to a pizza place and got take-away, but I was still not feeling too great so didn’t eat much of it. I was annoyed by this, as it was such good pizza! We went to Ecstatic Pizza, as this had really good reviews on TripAdvisor. We were both exhausted! The day had been pretty draining. I was upset that my first day with our new bike had gone so wrong, but at least things could only get better from here. And I’d learnt the hard way to always get off the motorbike to the opposite way of the exhaust – I wouldn’t be forgetting that one any time soon!
The next day our plan had been to go to Arcadia. However with my leg, it didn’t seem a good idea to be flying through the air into water! So instead, we headed to Phom Penh, as this was our next stop to go to the Vietnam Embassy. We estimated it would take us a few hours, so set off around lunch time, strapping all our bags to the back of the bike. I was excited to see the countryside on the journey!
Kampot. You definitely were not the best place for me! Obviously being ill and then burning myself meant that the town really wasn’t my favourite place, but it wasn’t really Kampot’s fault! We stayed for 5 days in the end, which got very boring as there isn’t that much to do there. However, for travellers passing through it’s worth spending a night or two! All in all, our trip was successful as we managed to buy a bike, which was the main reason we’d come to the town in the first place. Bokor would’ve been much more fun if the weather hadn’t been so bad, and I would recommend it as something to do as the views are stunning and the roads are a cool drive. I was gutted we didn’t get to go to Arcadia – maybe another time! Now, it was time to go to Phom Penh to sort out visas for Vietnam!
Charlotte Rick x
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