Life on the Cambodian seaside

The past few days since leaving Otres have been a bit of a whirlwind with limited internet (which was refreshing in itself). The crew split up on Monday with Beccy hopping a bus to Bangkok, Cass to Phnom Penh, Matt to Vietnam and Ruby, Aimee and I to Kampot. It was hard to leave Otres (we had been trying to do so for about five days, unsuccessfully) but I think we were all finally ready to hit the road after a week of lying on the beach.

Kampot was an easy two hour trip in a mini bus from Sihanookville. Every seat was full and all fifteen backpacks had to be squeezed and tied into the tiny bootspace, with the door to the boot tied closed. We were sitting in the backseat so the hot air coming in kind of defeated the purpose of the air conditioning, but can’t complain when it was such a short trip.
Kampot is a pretty French colonial town, wide, quiet streets, river running through the middle and lovely old buildings. We had a health kick and went running and did Pilates sessions both mornings we were there, getting up early to beat the heat – I think the local fishermen bringing in the catch were pretty amused by us whities running along the broadwalk by the river.
We visited an abandoned French town called Bakor Hill Station but the highlight was visiting the new casino built up there. They have plans to turn the National Park into a ritzy gambling town of 2,000 houses with some huge hotels and the casino. At the moment though, there is only the casino with about two guests and one hundred staff standing around wondering what to do with themselves. No idea how they are keeping it open.

We also went on a river ‘cruise’ on a little wooden boat with the loudest putt putt motor, and saw the best sunset of my life. The entire sky kept changing colours, red, pink, just amazing.

After two nights in Kampot we had an even shorter bus trip to Kep, which we pretty much visited for the Kampot pepper crab (Kampot pepper is actually grown in Kep). We treated ourselves to a stay in an eco-resort in the mountains. It had a pool with nibbling fish, we spent about two hours having the dry skin eaten off our feet!
And yes the crab was to die for – the three of us had a seafood extravaganza with cocktails in the most famous seafood restaurant in Kep, right on the water, for $14 each. Our most expensive meal so far by a long shot but still so cheap.
The next afternoon we hired a boat to take us 4.5 kms offshore to Rabbit Island, which has thirty bungalows and a handful of restaurants selling beer and seafood dinner. We arrived just in time to rent a bungalow for the night (very basic, two double beds, four hours of power a day, cold shower, $4 each), walk along the beach and swim while the sun went down.
That night after more delicious seafood and splitting a bottle of rum with two new friends, two Australian girls, we went swimming to see some bioluminescence – the algae that glows at night with movement of the water. There was SO MUCH! We only had to go a few metres out and it was all around us, you could see it in the breaking waves and could make out where nearby fish were by the glowing circles. You could even catch it and put it on your body where it would glow for a minute or so before dying (sorry algae). Because it was so dark there were also heaps of stars and we saw some shooting ones – just a beautiful, beautiful night. Sometimes I really can’t believe where I am!
The next morning we were off the island early at 7.30am to catch two buses all the way to the opposite side of the country, arriving in Battambang last night.

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