From Kratie we proceed to Kampot, a charming little town with buildings from the french colonial era. Only a hell of a bus ride ($15) and a little layover in Phnom Peng are between us and our destination. In Phnom Peng we do a short trip to the riverside to eat in a restaurant named Savaran. Papaya salad with shrimp. Great choice, but those who have never had papaya salad – be warned! It’s spicy! VERY spicy!!!
We don’t dwell in Phnom Peng but head on to Kampot just a few hours later. We arrive when it’s already dark and for the first time ever since Banlung we don’t have anyone waiting for us at the bus stop. That’s why we ask a random TukTuk driver to take us to a „Guest House made of concrete“ that doesn’t cost more than $10/night. He chooses the „Fruit Garden“ which is run by a french lady and a german guy who kind of just got stuck here when traveling. It’s not much of a surprise that he decided to stay here:
The “Fruit Garden” has a very neat yard surrounded by trees in the middle of the city – the perfect place to regain strength after an adventurous day. Fruit hangs from the lamps, hammocks are all over the place and provide the cheapest places to sleep (during the day you can just flounder around for free). Travelers on a budget can stay in the cheaper wooden rooms (mosquito nets provided). I think they said these rooms don’t have running water but I’m not quite sure. In any case, just take a look at them and decide for yourselves whether you want to stay or not! Our room, however, is tiled; we have our own bathroom (with running water) and can choose between either AC or fan.
We end up just drinking a few Gin Tonics for $2,50 each and fall asleep pretty soon. It’s been a long day.
Day 1: Bokor National Park
On our first morning in Kampot we sleep in late, eat a good breakfast and go into town to rent a sooter. Farmers sell pigs and chickens on the side of the road – I swear, there’s always something going on here!!
Close to the round about we find a scooter place: $5/day.
Let’s go then! The Bokor National Park is easy to find but not easy to reach. It lies on a 3550 feet high plateau on the mountain Phnom Popok in the Elephant Mountains.
The road is great! Completely new, perfectly tarred. But we run out of gas pretty soon and have to refill before we even reach the mountaintop. Since there is no gas stations, we have to buy gas in water bottles for way too much money! You might want to take some gas from the gas station with you to avoid being exploited.
We don’t have enough gas to go all the way to the waterfalls but the impressions gained on our way to the Hill Station already are unforgettable: it’s burning hot then actually COLD in turns. The sun is intense but the very top of the mountain is covered in clouds. In the scooter’s airstream none of us notices how the sun is burning our skin. Tristan’s arms are literally burnt black by the time we get back down! Please, PLEASE, take enough sun screen!
We visit the old casino “Bokor Palace” which was destroyed by the red khmer and weathers away ever since. The view from up here is phenomenal! We can even see the ocean behind the clouds and trees. There’s also an old church, an old pagoda, and a tea farm open to the public.
Peace, calm, quiet? Nope. A luxury hotel, several bungalow complexes, and the new chinese casino (opened in 2012) lure rich khmer, vietnamese, and chinese people in insanely expensive limos or big buses to the once-upon-a-time peaceful mountaintop.
But the trip up there was still a lot of fun! And for only 2000 riel per person (and $4 for the gas) it was actually rather cheap, too.