Monday, 21 February 2011
Kampot and the south western coast
As I mentioned in last Friday's post, Kampot was probably my favourite place of the holidays. Of course, there wasn't as much to see as in Siem Reap, no impressive temples here, but it was truly wonderful. The town itself feels rather eerie at times, an old French colonial resort partly destroyed by the Khmer Rouge, but slowly being taken over by locals again. Some buildings have been renovated, other are left to crumble.
It is a very quiet place too, which made a nice change after Phnom Penh. Not to everyone's taste I'm sure, but we had a great relaxing time there. Just what you need when you're on holiday and you've been doing some serious sightseeing. You don't want to come home knackered now do you?!
So rest we did. Full days at a time. Walking around the town, eating Indian food again after days of forced food restrictions... And planning days out. Oh yes, we didn't just sit on our bums all day, sipping iced coffees. No, we did a trek in the jungle.
Rather unexpected to be honest, but we ended walking uphill to reach a former French hotel/ casino, built as a cool retreat from the heat. It is now completely abandoned and most definitely very eerie, and rather creepy at times too...
Kampot wasn't the only place we visited in the south western part of the country, we also stopped in two sea side towns. Most definite opposites of each other, and we were definitely blown away by both, for quite different reasons. The first one was Kep. A recent article came out in the Guardian about it. They lauded this little village, once a grand French sea side resort, and now all but abandoned. A great place to eat crab apparently. This was enough to convince us to go there for a few days, but we failed to remember an important fact: it was Chinese New Year and that meant locals had a few days off.
What was usually a sleepy village turned into Khmer chaos. Thousands and thousands of people lining the small beach, gorging themselves on food. It was a rather impressive sight, one that we're not about to forget!!
The other place we stopped at was Sihanoukville. We'd heard mixed reviews about the place, but for various reasons, decided to stay there for one night.
Not quite my cup of tea to be completely honest. Well, the photos you see here (the cow statue in the sea, what's that all about?!!) are obviously, I'm not completely mental. But there's a side to it I'm not showing you here. Beaches taken over by westerners with 'getting tanned and drunk' as their only worries... Anyway, the quiet beaches were wonderful and much enjoyed before a rather eventful night bus trip back to Siem Reap... I much prefer to remember the wonderful sunset we enjoyed on our first night in Kampot though - can you blame me?