Sunday, May 4, 2014

Weekend in Kampot

Zuhair arrived on May 2 and with only 3 weeks left in Cambodia, I wanted to explore a new part of it with him. Turns out Nikunj's husband was also in town and she had the same goal in mind as well. She suggested we head to Kampot for the weekend. It is only two and a half hours away and perfect for a weekend getaway.

We left early on Saturday morning and arrived in exactly two and a half hours, which was a refreshing change from Cambodia's constant bus delays. We rented some scooters and made our way to the beautiful digs at Eden’s Eco Lodge. Eden's is off the beaten path from Kampot’s city center, about 15 minutes down a dirt road. There are 8 lodges on the river; none have any electricity or wifi. We only had a hammock, beds, cold shower, and solar lamps. It was simple and forced us to enjoy nature in all its glory. You can choose to close your doors but we opted to leave them open so we could see and hear the river. It was a great way to unwind, catch up and rest.

We opted to get lunch at the lodge and the menu for the day was grilled fish with tamarind sauce. It was so fresh! We digested our food over good conversations on the hammock while waving at the boats that slowly cruised by. Our environment caught up with us and all we wanted to do was take an afternoon siesta which is exactly what we did for almost 2 hours. I can’t remember the last time I slept that well in Cambodia.

We woke up just in time for sunset but unfortunately cloud cover diminished our chances of seeing anything so instead we focused our energy on finding dinner, specifically some of Kep's Crab with Kampot pepper. Luckily, we were pretty resourceful and found exactly what we were looking for and as an added bonus the restaurant was also on the river.

Dinner was delicious, messy and a little unsafe. While attempting to open up my crab, I cut myself twice.  I hope to master the technique one day.  I  also strayed from my technology free existence by using the restaurant's wifi to quickly speak with Asghar, post a picture on instagram and say hi to my mom and Chrissy.

We left dinner stuffed and opted to drive around town for a bit to experience the night life. We stopped at Rusty’s Keyhole for a drink and it reminded us of why we weren’t staying in town. It was filled with tourists and expats and felt like we had entered another world and caused us to leave pretty quickly. The drive back to the lodge was spooky in the dark. We could barely see the road ahead of us. It is amazing to me how quickly things can change in a matter of a few hours.

Upon our return, we saw a tree that looked like it was decorated with Christmas lights. This was known as the firefly tree. For some reason, fireflies flock to this type of tree and do so in large groups. I am almost glad a camera couldn’t capture this moment because it forced us all to take a mental picture. 

The sounds of morning prayers from nearby mosques woke us up the next morning. This area of Kampot has a large Cham Muslim population. After tossing and turning, we finally fell back asleep around 4:45 am only to wake up again at 7 am for breakfast. We thought we were going to drive up to Bokor but decided against it. Instead, we opted to lounge around in the hammocks again. The hammocks were addictive. After an hour or so, we took a local boat across the river to explore the local village and its wat. The boat ride was an adventure of its own. There was a hole in the center of our wooden boat and water was slowly coming in during the ride. The boys squatted in the middle and Nikunj and I sat on the edges. None of us know how to swim and this made the ride a little bit more exciting. 

Drenched in sweat, we got back to the lodge to shower and pack up. We needed to return our scooters by 11 am. On the way back, Nikunj and Aarjan got a flat tire and had to walk their bike for about 15 minutes in the scorching heat. They still managed to meet the deadline though! Their reward was a delicious lunch at a local Chinese noodle place where we had the most amazing noodles.  After resting and hiding from the sun , we finally braved the heat again to catch our bus back to Phnom Penh.

This trip made me really nostalgic about my life in Cambodia and how soon it will all be over. I am really excited to see what the next chapter holds. 

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