Colonial Kampot, Cambodia
After spending a few days in Cambodia, we began hearing about a quaint riverside town in the southern part of the country near the Vietnam border that had become favoured among travellers: Kampot. This was all the impetus it took. While the journey from Sihanoukville, Cambodia was about three hours which didn’t seem to0 arduous. Our journey was to begin with a minibus that was to pick us up from our current hotel, The Beach Club Resort. Of course it was late but eventually our gear and bodies were packed into the already full vehicle and we were on our way.
Cambodia is a desperately poor country, still recovering from the ravages of the Pol Pot regime some thirty years before. The road was terrible and most of the villages along our route were merely at the subsistence leve – huts on stilts. A bit depressing but not definitely not dull.
After our cramped, bumpy ride we arrived in Kampot, a charming if somewhat tattered French colonial town set along the Kampot River under the Bokor and Elephant mountain. Tuk tuk drivers descended on us as we unfolded ourselves from the van. Even though we knew our hotel was close we hired one for $1 for we reasoned, why walk in the heat with our bags? When we were deposited about a minute later at The Columns, our eyes lit up to see this historic and charming boutique hotel nestled on a quiet street in the old town.
Haunted by the ghosts of French Indo-Chine, Kampot seems like a tarnished gem that may soon be polished to its former brilliance. While the streets were lined with what mostly grey moldy old buildings, every now and then there were would be a splash of color – a building that had been restored by an intrepid entrepreneur catering to travellers. We spent only two nights there but managed to explore a lot of the old town which looked like it had seen better days. We were gratified to see so many restaurants serving delicious and cheap cuisine, often with a French flair like the small but cheerful Sisters II cafe which was owned and operated by one of three amazing girls who had become ‘sisters’ to each other in an orphanage.
And speaking of good eats, our next destination would prove to be a food lover’s paradise. Stay tuned!
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