Friday, 16 May 2014

Kampot - The Garden of Cambodia: Part 2

Click here to read Part 1 of this post if you haven't already.

The next morning I went to take a shower, only to find it occupied.
Having breakfast by the riverside.
We rented a bike in town, practiced riding it around for a while, then took the road east towards the seaside resort town of Kep.
The countryside was dominated by verdant, shadowy hills, which were such a pleasant surprise after the never-ending flatness we'd experienced in the rest of Cambodia.
Of course, the dusty roads were still aplenty, even here.

We stopped for a break at this small harbour on the coast.

Continuing on the coastal road to Kep.

After Kep, we headed back inland, north towards the pepper plantations.
Stopping at a tiny nowhere-town for some water.
Dust aside, most of the early roads were easy to ride on, since they were well-paved and mostly free of traffic.
However, to get to the pepper farms, we had to go onto a sandy, unpaved road like this one. Some stretches were no more difficult than the paved road, while others were a lot more bumpy, muddy and treacherous.

It didn't take long to reach the pepper farms. Along with salt, pepper is Kampot's main industry, and all across Cambodia you can have the famous Kampot Pepper served with your meals. Unfortunately, it's so good that it makes all other pepper seem bland by comparison.
This friendly man gave us a free tour of his pepper farm. In return we bought some of his pepper, and later gave it as a gift to our hosts at Ganesha.

The pepper comes in several different colours.

The farm also grows other fruits, such as these rambutans.
After leaving the pepper farm, we continued along the dusty road deep into the countryside. We would ride this road for around four more hours before we could find a paved road again. Make sure you have plenty of fuel if you go exploring the Cambodian countryside!

Beautiful farmland.

My favourite view of the trip. We would ultimately follow the road into the flat valley ahead, getting lost among unmarked pathways and bumpy scrublands lacking in discernible signposts.
We got lost for quite some time, having to guess our way through crossroads and intersections with no idea whether each turn would take us closer to or further from civilisation. Our fuel was getting low, and the sun would only be up for a couple more hours, so our situation became quite desperate. We had to ask for help from the few local villagers that we passed, which wasn't easy, for two reasons. Firstly, no one out here spoke a word of English, and our awkward attempts at communication were often met with blank stares. Secondly, even when people did seem to understand that we wanted to find the road to Kampot, few actually seemed confident in the correct direction. We would ask a young farm girl and she would point down one road, then we'd ask a dust-coated motorcyclist and he'd point in the complete opposite direction. Finding the correct road became a long procedure of asking as many people as we could until we found some kind of consensus. That, and the occasional blind guess.
Eventually, after hours of bumpy, sandy, muddy paths, we finally found a paved road!
Back in Kampot, with it's giant durian fruit roundabout.
We ate dinner as the sun set over the Kampot river.

And that was it for our Kampot adventure, which was one of the finest of our entire trip! We would actually return to Kampot briefly during our journey east to Vietnam. But first, we had business in Sihanoukville and its nearby islands. In the next post, we explore the beautiful island of Koh Rong.

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