Now with expectations back in check, we board the bus from Angtasom to Kampot with our new friend Dania from Spain/Iraq/London (long story, but an interesting woman, travelling on her own). Many people stop at Kep, but after reading reports, we decided that Kampot was more our style.
The bus ride is very dusty
I now completely understand the Asian face mask thing. Fortunately, thinking we might need a napkin someday, I packed an old floursack towel in the messenger bag, that we were able to cut in half for us, using the ever-handy Swiss Army tiny knife.
Man it feels good to be a gangsta.
Since we left the homestay early, we needed to find a place to stay before we checked into the intended bungalow, so I picked a place across the river, as I really needed some sleep. The wind is blowing, and the locals are FREEZING. Like parkas, hats, scarves freezing. I am sleeveless.
Bonus- full bar overlooking the river and the town proper. That’s the old bridge you can see spanning the river to the right.
Kampot is a sleepy little river town, a haven for ex-pat hippies and weirdos. It was fantastic. Slow pace, a reasonable smattering of good food, and one place, once discovered, saw us there 3 lunches in a row (closed on Tuesdays, the first day we tried to visit, or it might have been 4). Funny aside, when it was closed the first day we went, and the sign said “closed on tuesday”, it took us a minute to realize that it WAS tuesday. Travel is awesome that way.
Here it is, the Ecran Movie House, with a noodle shop in front. The town is so chill that they have a whole library of movies to choose from, and you can watch one in a private room for $4. Otherwise the real theater that seats 10 shows movies on a schedule.
Did I mention before that the US dollar is the primary currency? That’s what you get from the ATMs here. The only time you see the Cambodian Riel is when you get change that’s less than a dollar. They don’t mess with coins. So, $2.50 really means 2 dollars plus 2000 riel. Easy.
More good eats in Kampot: Sauroman at RikiTikiTavi. (I loved that story/cartoon as a kid). No, not named after Lord of the Rings, but we did get good mileage out of that joke. It’s a chicken curry that’s faintly Indian with a Cambodian twist- more Kampot pepper? We didn’t see this dish anywhere else in Cambodia. They could have made it up (after LOTR?) or it’s just local to that area. It was good, if kind of mild, which is what we thought of most Cambodian food.
The first lunch we had, after being turned away for the Ecran noodle movie venue, was Mina’s cafe. Chosen because it 1) had good reviews, and 2) reminded me of my beloved Mina dog. I know what you’re thinking, but not in that way, okay?
We ordered a roasted chicken, and were super hungry. It.took.for.ever. But when it came, it was delicious, really succulent in a schmaltzy way. You can see the schmaltz there on the plate. I spent the valuable waiting time hurling arcane cheese questions at my friend who was preparing for the Cheesemonger Invitational, because Asia has internet EVERYWHERE. I think I freaked her out, but you never know what that Moskowitz is going to throw into it. 🙂
I meant to get a pic when the dish arrived, but I failed, and we had eaten half of it before we remembered to take one. It was worth the wait (the food, not so much the pic). Did I mention that we were pretty hungry an hour ago? ’cause we were.
After 2 days across the river, we checked into the Two Moons. Slightly south of the main commercial area, this was a charming oasis. And we discovered an important thing. Kampot is best explored by bicycle, it’s just the right speed.
Breakfast is included in the rate, and I chose this one every day. Delicious fruits, a touch of yogurt and granola, a few pomelo slices on the rim, this was soooooooo good. I’m not a fan of the repeating vowel for emphasis, but it was just such a nice start to the day.
We stayed in the bungalow on the left there. Big bonus- free bicycles!
We were now powered up for excursions into the neighboring islands, where we were constantly hello-bombed by people that didn’t even want to sell us anything. It was a great day. That dog included, even though he was pretty put out with us. But all dogs are awesome, so he’s a friend too.
And on the way back to town, we see this weathered billboard with what must have been contraception initiative. A happy condom being ignored. Not limited to any one culture, is it?
Brent+bike is too tall to go over this bridge/under this bar. But he does it anyway. No consequences. It’s hard to tell from the pic, but if he was sitting upright on the seat, that bar would have clobbered him.
Kampot has been my favorite place in 2 months of travel. Is it because we had low expectations? Maybe, but some places just *fit*