As I’m writing this I am lying in a hammock under a palm leave construction on the bank of the Kampot river. Peaceful and amazing. We just had the most incredible Cambodian meal, after arriving from Kep a few hours ago. Life is sooooooooo good!!!
Back to Kep.
We arrive in Kep from Phnom Penh by bus on a hot afternoon. The hotel – less than impressive – has no power. To its defence, the entire speck of a town is affected. A great reason to go to the beach.
Kep has one man made beach. The rest of the ocean ends against concrete walls or mudflats. Not quite the pristine beaches we so love in Australia. Gosh are we going to enjoy those when we get home!!
The ocean looks like a dam, no waves, and the water is warm. Very lovely for floating around in for a long time. The locals either swim with all their clothes on, or totally starkers (little kids). We did not see a single local in a swimsuit. They must think us strange.
We enjoy a cheap meal at a local eatery. As we stroll back towards our hotel we stumble upon a stunning beach bar. Jarik and I enjoy icy cold, dry rosé (the first decent wine in two months!!), while the kids play on the sand with newly found French friends. Bliss!! Early the next morning we are up and ready for our day on Rabbit Island. We enjoy a scrumptious breakfast at a cute beach cafe, before we board our longboat to the island. The island is charming with its timber and palm frond bungalows and colourful beach chairs and hammocks. Massages of every kind is on offer for next to nothing all over the beach.
The walk around the island is only five kilometres, but takes almost a whole day. The swimming, building a raft out of driftwood and playing on beaches along the way is only a very small part of the reason for this. For the most part, the path goes along the shore. For one significant stretch it goes through who knows where. We couldn’t find it. After a long time of frustrating hit and miss (or all misses, I should say!), dead ends, bleeding legs and many scratches all over, we make our way through mud, bush and scrub and back onto the path. We are all VERY happy and relieved to get back to the beach where we started and in total agreement that Rabbit Island is not going on our list of favourite walks or destinations. We make it just in time for a cold drink and a quick swim before we have to board our boat back to Kep.
After a shower (or dripping session, one drop at a time) we go to the crab market where we have a delicious meal of Amok fish curry. Super yummo!! We have a lovely conversation with the owner of our eatery and hear all about the ups and downs of starting a business in this part of the world.
We walk the few kilometres to our new favourite hangout and enjoy rosé in beautiful wine glasses, dim lights and stunning surroundings. They do serve amazing mocktails for kids too. The two littlies play UNO, while the two older ones engage in long conversations with the parents. Precious. The kids convince us to linger a little longer and indulge in enjoying one another in such a special place. We stroll home hours later, hearts full to capacity.
We’re up early the next morning for our run. We finish at the scooter rentals where we pick up two scooters for the six of us. We ride three-three to our breakfast spot. Very cool.
Our move to a much better hotel, right by the beach and the action, consists of two trips back and forth. Only two people with backpacks can fit onto a scooter. Jarik and I giggle as we wizz up and down the ocean road with a kid each, four backpacks and hair blowing in the breeze. This would NEVER happen back home!
We spend the rest of the day scooting all over the place. We visit a temple, explore caves, get lost between tiny villages among the green rice paddies, find the secret lake after much searching, have the most incredible meal on the side of a dirt road (a traditional curry made from scratch with ingredients picked right before preparation) and tour a pepper farm. We are exhausted and covered in dust from head to toe when we finally get back to our hotel, but very happy about our adventurous day. A nice refreshing swim at dusk, followed by a cheap, simple meal conclude a day we will never forget.
Jarik and I are the only ones up for a morning run. After a leisurely breakfast, with a view across the beach and bay, we spend the rest of our morning between the beach and the pool. Exhausting! So to recover, I squeeze in a traditional Khmer massage between checking out and getting on the bus. Somebody has to do it.
Kep is a great little place tucked in between the ocean and the green hills of a national park. The huge French estates, now a little neglected, will surely be restored to its former glory. There is development happening all over, but especially around the long promenade. It is a popular weekend and holiday destination for locals.
We leave the place with lots of new experiences and fabulous memories. Thank you Kep, it’s been a pleasure.
– Mariza –