We (Sophie, Dennis and Julie) left Hacienda on Sunday morning and took a mini van to Kampot. We decided to follow Mark’s advice and booked a double room at Mad Monkey and Sophie stayed in a dorm. The first night, we didn’t do much, we met Swiss Sophie, a friend of our Dutch Sophie from Pnom Penh, had a little chat, watch the sunset over Kampot and then headed for bed after a stroll in town.
The next day, Monday, we all agreed to rent 3 scooters directly from our guesthouse, one for Sophie x2, one for Mark and one for Dennis and I; and we headed to Kep.
The ride is about fourty minutes long. It is a really nice ride, with all the kids getting off school and cycling around and people doing their everyday thing, driving around with… 2 pigs on one motorbike! Crazy Cambodians… We have even seen ladies carrying chickens whilst driving! Absolutely insane…
The landscape was also really beautiful, with hills and palm trees and rice fields all around us. The houses around seemed mostly hand made from trees and plants. It was the first time we got to see the Cambodian country side and it was a beautiful experience.
The rice fields were looking absolutely fantastic…
And the girls were having a lot of fun driving the scooter and taking over Mark!
We finally reached the roundabout marking the entrance to Kep. The road was quite bad and we drove safely to the ‘town’. Actually, in Kep, there is not a town as much, but it’s more a long strip of houses and shops and market along the sea.
So we drove for a while on this bad road and got to enjoy our entrance into Kep. The bad road turned into a nicer road, and we were surrounded by hills. The jungle was spreading around us.
Then we started spotting the sea far away and it was so nice to see it again! We hadn’t seen it in two days… Such a long time, right…
So we kept driving and got to the roundabout close to the crab market and decided to go straight ahead and go explore the area before heading to the crab market for a lovely, freshly caught and cooked for lunch. We drove for maybe 5 to 10 minutes and then reached an other area of Kep.
And this is what we discovered….!
Not bad, hu? Pretty beautiful.
After we jumped back on the scooters and drove towards the other side of Kep. We stopped at the local market and bought some fresh fruits that we ate along the water.
Around 2 o’clock, everybody was starting to be slightly hungry so we decided to head back to the beginning of Kep in order to find the market. We read that it is THE PLACE to get good, tasty and fresh crab.
We drove to the market and had a look around at the restaurants but everything seemed quite expensive so we decided to go into the market to have a look. There was a lot of stands with people selling Kampot pepper, waffles, crepes, squids… All sorts of things! And then we walked towards the sea, and saw that people were selling fresh crab there…
That’s when we met this girl who spoke English and Cambodian and seemed to be a tourist (she had a strong American accent). She told us that the best way to do it is to buy fresh crab from the market and then take it to a restaurant and ask them to cook it. It was $6 for a kilo so it seemed like a good idea but we still decided to go double check with the restaurants to make sure they were okay to do that.
One of the restaurants offered us $2 per kilo to steam the crabs and $3 to cook it with spices, Kampot pepper and vegetables. We agreed, but then she asked: Do you know how to choose the crabs? We all looked at each others… So she walked with us to the market next door and picked three kilos of beautiful crabs for us! I managed to get the price down to $15 and we went back to the restaurant.
They sat us down by the sea, and the view was beautiful. We ordered a few drinks, some french fries and some vegetables, and waited for the crab to arrived.
And when it arrived, it was crazy! Two whole plates crabs cooked with vegetables and Kampot pepper. Absolutely delicious! There’s only two crab parts we didn’t manage to finish…
And a plate of steamed crab that was absolutely fantastic. We could really taste the savour of the crab, and it was absolutely fantastic!
And this is what our table looked like… Bon appetit!
We payed ($18 for everything!) and said goodbye to the staff who was really good and then started driving back to Kampot.
I was drove for a while and Dennis got a chance to really enjoy the scenery. It is always easier when you are at the back of the scooter because you need all your attention when you are driving. But it is definitly more fun to drive!
We stopped to add some gasoline as the tanks were nearly empty, and then went on a smaller road for a while before heading back to Kempot.
The scenery was absolutely beautiful again, and it was a really enjoyable ride back to town.
Before going back to Mad Monkey, we went to Kampot Pie and Ice Cream Palace for a little treat.
We then headed back to Mad Monkey for a little chill in the pool and a drink, then we went to bed, tired after a long day of driving, sightseeing and eating!
In the morning we all decided to get two scooters (as Swiss Sophie was leaving us!) and head for Bokor National Park. We heard from many people it is worth the ride, the vistas are beautiful and it’s a good day out on the scooter.
We grabbed breakfast at Kampot Pie and Icecream Palace again, and then got on the scooter for the day’s trip.
We drove onto New Brigde to get out of town, and followed the directions to Bokor National Park. We had to pay 25cts for each scooter to get in and started to get up the mountain(s)!
The view, as we were told, was absolutely beautiful all along the ride.
We stopped two or three times to enjoy the view and change drivers. The road was so nice that everybody wanted to drive a little bit. It was so enjoyable!
Mark was always driving, and Dennis and I kept changing drivers. Sophie was in the back seat, enjoying the scenery and taking pictures!
Our scooter was a lot slower so we were always behind Mark and Sophie… And we got to take pictures of them driving!
Bokor National Park is an area just outside of Kampot that used to be very wild and protected, but in the recent years it has been bought by Russians who have started cutting down forests and building on the plateau.
Now there is a casino, a hotel and massive
parking lots there, which, according to us, ruined a little bit the whole experience and especially ruins the place… But on the other hand, the drive is really beautiful and it is still worth going there for an afternoon.
We got to the second entrance, where you can go left to the Russian Casino and Hotel Complex, or right towards the waterfall and other things to see (but that were close that day). Here is a map of the National Park:
Before going to the plateau and seeing the Bokor Casino and Palace (which is listed in the most haunted places to visit), we headed for the waterfall.
First, we saw this beautiful statue of a woman, which we guessed was a representation of Buddha.When we arrived at the waterfall, there were a lot of wasps around and not really a lot to see, so we took a picture and left.We then headed back towards the second entrance of the National Park and drove straight on towards Bokor Casino and Palace. The drive was about 15 to 20 minutes and it was really fun, especially because it was a bit chilly with the clouds, but no rain! so really, ideal weather. The clouds/fog made the scenery look very eerie and gloomy so it was awesome!
Then we finally arrived at Bokor Casino and Palace, and it looks so eerie that I was very much taken aback by how gloomy it is. It is like being on the set of the movie Hostel. Gives you shivers!
So here’s what it looks like when you arrive:
And then here are a few photos of the inside to show you how gloomy it was.
Here’s a picture of Sophie in front of Bokor Casino and Palace. Eerie, right?!
On the way back, we were nearly out of fuel, so had to go down without the engine on for a while. We were going really slow and it was actually quite nice: no engine noise, just silence, nature and the cold wind.
It is 5 minutes from our guesthouse that we had the scooter accident. Holes in the ground and shitty scooter do not get along well, we learned our lesson, Cambodia.
We went to the hospital for Sophie to be taken care of, and everybody there and at the Mad Monkey was fantastic. Sophie was so strong and she dealt with everything so well. A lot of people would have cried for their mom and gotten on a flight home, but she didn’t. She stayed strong and positive in order to heal.
The next day, we got a minivan back to Hacienda, in Otres Beach, Sihanoukville. We wanted somewhere we felt home to relax at so we could heal before Sophie would go home and Dennis and I would go to Laos.
When we arrived, Martin, Johanna, Casey and Henry were still here! It was so nice to see people were already know and it really felt like home. Everybody was fantastic and helped us take care of Sophie. Johanna said she would skip Angkor Wat and go on the day bus to Bangkok with Sophie so she wouldn’t be on her own for the trip. Such a kind gesture!
Sophie got home okay and she is now doing really well and healing fast. Johanna is home and cold and missing the sun and the beach!!! Martin is somewhere enjoying the compagny of his parents whom he hasn’t seen in one whole year… And Dennis and I are enjoying some rest at Hacienda. My arm is healing fast, and I don’t think I will have a scar!
From all this adventure, I have learned that yes, you were right dad, you need to wear long trousers and tops when driving a scooter or a motorbike. I am so glad I had long trousers. I also learned that things happen for a reason and that whatever happens, karma has your back. So if you are kind and caring, and doing good around you, people will also be here for you. Sophie is the sweetest person I have ever met, and every single person we bumped into wanted to help and participating to her healing and feeling better. Finally, I learned that it’s okay to relax and it’s okay to take time to heal. There’s no point exhausting my body.
But most important of all, all this experience taught me one thing, I now have a great friend, more than a friend, more like a little sister, and she will forever be in my heart. I love you loads Sophie, take good care of yourself!