Kampot: Located on the Eastern side of the South coast of Cambodia this place is definitely worth a stop. The center of Kampot is small but has all the necessary things like a pharmacy, small night markets, street food, trendy restaurants, great café’s and haunted casino’s and abandoned French colonial villas. Another remarkable thing about Kampot is that the neighboring village Kep, which is famous for its amazing fresh ‘Callinectes Sapidus’ or in other words yummy blue crab, which makes snack time appealing. I personally wouldn’t go to Kep as it is extremely small and offers little to no variation and only a small man made beach but, do go here for a day trip! Another nice thing about Kampot is that Cambodia famous black pepper is originated from this village. Due to the quartz in the soil the plants get some extra spice and taste. But also if you’re looking for a time to enjoy and relax this area offers a few guesthouses that will let you get comfortable.
GreenHouse Kampot: Originally the building once stood in Phnom Phenn, yes you understand me correctly…literally the guesthouse took down the foundation and moved the wooden boards to Kampot to rebuild it right on the river bend.
Looking out on a peaceful and quiet river followed by a background of hilly jungle makes a boatrip with their canoes a real treat. The bungalows vary from cheap to expensive with luxurious bathroom and facilities.
The food is prepared with Kampots famous pepper and offers some interesting tastes. Underneath the main building you can chill out in a hammock in the shade or bake brown while sitting on the dock. The entire atmosphere is ultimately relaxed and I would recommend booking a few nights here to really zen it up. My boyfriend and I loved it here!
Excursion with ‘The Family Tours’: Holly Molly for $18 you get a day which is completely rammed and packed full with all the highlights you can imagine of Kampot. I’m not going to lie I’ve rarely had such a complete and thorough tour as this one. We did and saw everything you can imagine all stuffed (in a positive way) into a timeframe of 8 am until 5:30 pm. I have to admit in the end I really was broke back mountain, just because you have so many impressions and things to see that you’re pooped but absolutely worth $18 and if you ask me I would have paid $25 for everything we saw and did. To start off our tour guide wasn’t what you would call a natural born native English speaker but he really did his best and let us see some awesome things.
First we visited the salt farms which was interesting as the water came from the ocean yet the farms were a few miles away so it had to be transported here first. The soil is stomped and compressed manually in order to make sure the water doesn’t all flow away.
Then the salt is collected and you get different sorts of salt: one for cooking and one dirtier variety for cold countries to salt the roads with.
Afterwards we visited the famous pepper farms of Kampot and saw how they grew and what they tasted like. Pepper plants grow and curl around for instance a pole upwards but a trick to get more pepper out of one plant is to make the circle bigger.
Thus rows and rows of chimney like brick constructions are made and the plants grow around those.
We then took a small ride to neighboring Kep in which we walked a small bit on the manmade beach and stumbled upon a huge blue jellyfish that unfortunately already was washed up on the beach and dead. But I am serious I am glad this sucker wasn’t wobbling around while I was splashing here: Yikes!
Then we headed towards the famous blue crab harbor on which these famous crabs are captured, sold and cooked.
You can also find other types of fish here but the main thing is to walk up to a few locals bargain down the price of some crabs and let them cook it on the spot on the stoves they have in the back.
You can hand pick which ones you want and I see how it’s prepared in front of you. Add a yummy sauce which you can buy here and prepare yourself to enjoy the best crab meal you’ve ever had!
After gobbling up the last pieces of Crab we headed on out to the famous Bokor National Park (which is in hands of Vietnam and thus all the entrance money goes directly to them for 99 years, just like the deal that was made with Angkor Wat).
Bokor is a really big hill with the strangest and most haunted things you’ll ever see.
Visit old French colonial villa’s that have bright orange fungus growing on the sides. Or take a peak inside an abandoned church looking out over the valley.
One of the main highlights was an old deserted Casino completely built in the Art Deco and Great Gatsby style looking out over a steep cliff and all the way down the fall you could see the glistening of the beach and small islands located just a small distance off shore.
The creepy thing about the cliff is that many gamblers who were so heavily in debt would plunge themselves from the cliff as they had no more future, talking about a downer.
I have to say that these were only the real highlights but we actually saw and did also so much more like a walk through a cave or visiting a man made lake during the poll pot era.
Or saw a strange plant that really seriously looks like a naked manly man part! The name of this hilarious newly discovered carnivorous plant is the Pong Kdor Moha Tep, which is translated into the Circumcised penis plant, HAHA!
And don’t think that the manly jokes are done with… oh no! Bokor Mountain has some phallus connotations everywhere.
For instance the mountain is dedicated to the Lady Deity that looks over the Seamen below the mountain near the sea… yes we’re just getting started here… and… the story goes that one day she was walking up the mountain so that she could make love with her husband but unfortunately she died halfway up.
That is why all the offerings around her are in the shape or form of a phallus like banana’s or nuts HAHA!
But to top it off someone just went all out and placed an enormous wooden dildo in front as well… This all is done in the name of this Deity so in heaven she gets what she was looking for… oh my!
Absolutely do this excursion! You won’t regret it.
Must Eat 1
Epic Arts Café: Set up by an English owner this joint is run by disabled locals with a knack and skill for making amazing food. As many of the waiters are deaf, the menu teaches you how to say certain things in sign language and once you’re ready to order you easily check on a special ordering list which item(s) you want and give it at the counter. A yummy place to enjoy a salad and also contribute towards a good cause.
Must Eat 2
Baraca: Everything in this place was perfectly decorated in the most trendy and hippest way! From the table to the decoration in the toilet the whole setting gave me a feeling of a stylish up to date designed restaurant that you could easily find in Europe.
To my even greater surprise and enjoyment was that the food matched my expectations and met the same style as the place itself due to the way the food was presented and cooked. I absolutely recommend the Mezze Plate filled with delicious small bites and flavors! This is great for a romantic or fun night out.
Must Eat 3
Ellie’s: Hipster Scandinavian Minimalistic interior meets soulful warm tummy filling food. This really is a place to enjoy a great cup of coffee and breakfast to easily get the day started.
The choice of soy milk always pleasantly surprises me in Asia as it isn’t always findable. The French toast with bananas were delicious!
Also check out their shop in the back with all kinds of clothing and accessories also for the home.
Must Eat 4
Rusty Keyhole: Okay, now I know what you’re thinking: What the hell is this and how is this dish on the must eat list?!
I really can’t do anything more than add a simple Instagram glow but the dish really won’t get more sexier unfortunately. Why you may ask…well plain and simple because its spare ribs, mashed potatoes and a coleslaw made in the most ultimate English way ever. However don’t be fooled by its looks because these ribs have been voted to be the best in entire Cambodia
Must Eat 5
Ecran Noodle & Dumpling House: Not only was the meal amazingly cheap it was presented to you as a real treat! The noodles are created on the spot so fresher than this it really can’t get. You can choose from a simple menu of soups and dumplings and really enjoy any dish you choose.
Found right next to the river the setting is cozy and nice even for a night out especially when it doesn’t have to cost that much.
L’Osteria: A full deep red wine with a good old game of cards right near the river makes this setting perfect for the end of the day. With a warm sunray on your face and the possibility to order a yumster platter of cold cuts and cheese you can stay here for hours.
The Italian owner is very friendly and the décor is inviting. A must stop for a good glass of merlot.
Transformed Cars: Forget Tuk Tuk’s these guys are taking it to another level with a customized car to go off road while picking up backpackers along the way. Seriously these cars would be amazing back home! I mean why not just saw off the hood and create your own convertible…. convert into convertible.