The route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/159487769
The chat: Entrenched in the human psyche is a drive (or lack thereof) to slow down when the day’s activities seem easily surmountable. Today illustrated this perfectly. Starting late, we then lingered over breakfast at Epic Arts, a Kinyei-esque hipster cafe, and didn’t leave Kampot until 8 a.m.
A few clicks down the main road to Kep we detoured off to Phnom Chhork, an impressive limestone karst rising up from the valley floor to tower over rice paddies and carefully tended vegetable plots. We were met at the Wat at the base of the cliffs by a scrum of boys claiming to be in their late teens but probably only 12 or 13. Colloquialisms (lovely-jubbly and ‘capital of Wales is Cardiff’) suggested we weren’t the first Barangs to venture down the dusty dirt track.
We never tire of the excuses offered by child guides as to why they are not at school:
‘Grade 7 has an exam’
‘Our teacher has work to do’
And our favourite, offered on any day other than Tuesday, ‘We do not have school on Tuesdays’
That aside, we were safely guided into and out of the dingy bat filled caves – who needs school anyway?
Hitting the road again, our late start started to take its toll and we rolled into Kep, famous for its fresh crabs, at 1pm. Two crabs fried in green pepper and lemongrass and garlic respectively (see food pics for more) sorted us right out, and we rolled slowly through bombed out but still French Riveria-ish Kep and onto the Vine Retreat, a beautiful eco-lodge up in the hills behind Kep. Here they grow the pepper that the area is famous for, as well as an incredible array of other vegetables, fruits and flowers. In time to see the sunset (just) how we wished we’d arrived to soak it all up a little earlier!