Red Hot Kampot Pepper

Bus ride from Phnom Penh to Kampot took us 6 hours. It’s only a over a hundred kilometers, but the road is so bad, the bus hardly goes more than 50kmh. Once we got to Kampot though we forgot all about uncomfortable buses, traffic of Phnom Penh and crowds of people. Kampot was a small tranquil town on a riverbank. Everything was within a walking distance, accommodation was better and cheaper than in Phnom Penh and the food was amazing. There were many food options for a small town like this. And what’s more important, every single place served really tasty dishes.

Kampot is renowned for it’s top quality pepper and the locals love it so much they use it in a majority of their dishes… even in pancakes! I must say the peppery twist of Kampot’s food really made an impression on our taste buds. Fish and seafood ruled on local plates and it’s not hard to understand taking Kampot’s vicinity to the sea. We had sea food for almost every meal, always fresh from the water and always with lots of pepper. Yummmm… One evening we had grilled mussels that were so good that we had to order an extra plate. I had never ever had such delicious mussels in my life. They were grilled with a slightly sweat and sour sauce, sprinkled with dried onion and fresh spring onion and served piping hot. Oh my… Divine.

Traditionally life in Cambodia turns around family, food and religion. Families spend evenings together, eating, cheering and telling stories from the day that passed. The food was abundant and omnipresent. Cambodians have experienced famine and that makes them treasure food more than anything. Maybe only religion is more important than food. Cambodians love and care for their Buddhist temples and treat monks with great respect. For Khmer people monks are the teachers and religion is the way of life.

People in Kampot were all so lovely that we were determined to learn a few phrases in Khmer to at least in some percent show them our appreciation. However on my first attempt to say “Thank you” to a waitress I apparently said something about her bum! We were having breakfast in a crowded local eatery and everyone burst out laughing. When they cooled down they gave us a lesson of pronunciation.

To get to know their culture better we decided to rent a motorbike and drive around the nearby villages and countryside. Initially we only wanted the motorbike for a day, but ended up keeping it for three days. It gave us an absolute freedom. We went to places we wouldn’t otherwise get to. We went to Bokor Mountain and it’s waterfall, ghost casino and abandoned French church.We visited villages and farmers working in salt fields and rice paddies. We stumbled upon beautiful temples hidden in the jungle and watched fishermen go to see at sunset. One day we also drove to Kep – a fishing village that is slowly but surely turning into a seaside resort. There we indulged into crabs cooked in front of us, grilled fish and octopus. We also stumbled upon a stunning butterfly farm. We were looking for a pepper plantation, but we were given wrong indications and ended up in a completely wrong place which turned out to be the perfect place in the end. It was an oasis in a midday sun with a shady garden and butterflies flying around happily from one flower to another. Surely pepper plantation wasn’t so charming.
In the end we stayed in Kampot for five days. We don’t really know what kept us there. There were no real attractions in Kampot or in the area. It was simply its atmosphere and loveliness that made us enjoy every day there. Yet on the fifth day we decided that if we wanted to see more of Cambodia we have to keep moving. We bought bus tickets to Sihanouk Ville and traveled west.

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Waterfall in Bokor Mountain

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Ghost Casino, Bokor Mountain

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Ghost Casino, Bokor Mountain

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Ghost Casino, Bokor Mountain

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Ghost Casino, Bokor Mountain

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Abandoned French Church, Bokor Mountain

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Abandoned French Church, Bokor Mountain

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Kampot

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Kampot

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Kampot

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Kampot

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Kampot

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Kampot Market

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Kampot Market

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Kampot Market

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Kampot Market

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Kampot Market

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Kampot Market

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Countryside near Kampot

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Countryside near Kampot

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Countryside near Kampot

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Countryside near Kampot

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Countryside near Kampot

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Buddhist Temple, Kep

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Buddhist Temple, Kep

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Buddhist Temple, Kep

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Butterfly Farm, Kep

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Butterfly Farm, Kep

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Butterfly Farm, Kep

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Fish Market, Kep

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Fish Market, Kep

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Kep

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