The Pepper trail to Kampot

Kampot is very well known for its delicious pepper and we set off today talking about the dishes we wanted to try with pepper in it.

Our driver picked us up at 11 and off we went to Kampot about 2 and a half hours away.

Driving through the outskirts of PP and into the countryside of Cambodia reminded me of the drive from Hanoi to Halong Bay.

Crumbling buildings, piles of rubble, plastic bags , dogs, scooters, bikes often with whole families on board ( some of the little ones asleep ) trucks, little wooden spirit houses, feather dusters, school children always dressed neatly in blue skirts or long pants and white shirts but not always wearing shoes , women walking in their pyjamas suits, lots of little shops. ……. We passed it all.

Finally it became more countryside and more mountains in the distance. Pete and El love Kampot and kept telling us how lovely it was there compared to PP. I’m not convinced we’ll find it equal to our weekend getaway spots!

After a lot of epic driving going round trucks and little school kids on bikes and older kids two and three deep on motor cycles we arrived at Kampot.

First impressions : old, dusty, eclectic, faded. Later after we dropped our bags at our Guest House and headed into the small main area I revised this impression to fading charm, laid back ambiance , original, friendly, slow and waiting to be discovered.

Pete and El have been here a few times and are wanting to get in on the growing appeal for this little place. They , particularly El, want to open a guest house, restaurant bar. Yes after all the teacher training , Pete is considering moving on. He can’t afford to do it too soon so might have to keep living in PP during the week and teach then return to Kampot and help El set up the business they want to run. It’s still a way off because it’s harder than it seems to do. But they are keen and have been gathering ideas. El is smart and has been using her experience at managing Nick’s restaurant to build experience for their own business. Who knows what will happen.

As most of you know I am very particular and quite successful at selecting our holiday accomodation. Well this time I got it wrong. Nice place but wrong location! Too far from the action of Kampot. But Pete has hired a motor bike and Steve and I have the use of push bikes for the 10 min ride across the river into town.

For Christmas Eve dinner we went to Baraca run by friend of the kids. It was tapas night. Great fun. Great food and lovely cocktails. Followed by a walk along the river which twinkled with Christmas lights I could feel the effect this place has on people.

Big Night Out

El had to work so Pete and his friend Nick picked us up in a tuk tuk and we headed off for Riverside. This area is probably more touristy than where we are staying but it has lots of bars and little shops and great views across the mighty Mekong River. 

We settled in a bar on the second floor of an old style building and watched the sunset drinking cocktails. ( poor El at work!)

We then moved onto dinner. Pete suggested a little place with fantastic ribs but Nick the restauranter stepped in and said it was Christmas and he thought we should step it up! No red plastic chairs tonight!

He also knows a few people in the restaurant business in PP so quickly got on the phone and got a table at Chinese House. 

A quick tuk tuk ride took us further up river to a beautiful oldFrench  style villa – all slightly crumbling but stylish, exotic and aging all at once. Nick was greeted by the chef, a young woman from South Africa and the owner a man also from SA. We skipped the gorgeous downstairs bar and went up to the fantastic dining room. 

Great place,  great food,  lovely surroundings and Pete and Nick to keep us entertained. 


     I had the best duck dish I’ve had in a while. Thank you Nick for taking us here. Again poor El at work keeping Nicks bar going! 

We went back to Che Culo after dinner and had s nightcap with El before walking a few blocks home. 

A lovely night. 

Tomorrow Kampot. 

The Killing Fields

We went in a tuk tuk not really knowing what to expect. It was sad. Gut wrenchingly sad. To think this sort of killing, by Pol Pot, went on largely ignored by the world is terrible. 

Pete took us there with his favourite tuk driver through crowded streets which gave way to bumpy country style lanes past lovely Cambodian people living so poorly. Then we reached gates opening to a field which housed a simple path around what looked liked garden and in the centre stood a tall stupa filled with skulls. 

We walked along the  little path with our audio guiding us around past graves and a killing tree. The audio contained stories from survivors and their families about the atrocities that were committed in these people – by their own countrymen. 

Pictures tell the story: