Sitting in the carriage of our tuk tuk we were moving dreamily through a thick grove of old growth trees, the pre-dawn air cool but already hinting of a blistering day ahead. Our first tour of the ruins had been almost unbearably hot, so today we thought it best to beat the heat and get out to Angkor Wat before daybreak. The bonus would be that after the prescribed sunrise over the temples, we would have most of the ruins to ourselves during the cooler morning hours.
Posts from the ‘cambodia’ Category
Continuing along the south coast of Cambodia, we took a mercifully short journey from Kampot, Cambodia to Kep. Although we enjoyed Kampot’s faded charms, it was dreadfully hot so staying at The Columns Hotel, despite its restored colonial beauty and comfortable up-to-date rooms, was a bit of a drag since it lacked one vital ingredient: a pool!
Our minibus, which picked us up right at our hotel and then spent an hour hunting down other travellers before departing Kampot, bounced over a largely unpaved dusty red trail through countless sad villages whose trees and huts were covered in road dust to eventually deposit us within 2o kms of the Vietnam border at Kep, a small town revered for its crab shacks (really more like wooden restaurants) hanging over the Gulf of Thailand. Our minibus carried us up a hill to our resort, The Kep Lodge, which was set a good piece from the main road and nestled against a protected jungle (at least for now in the land where corruption is the number one industry!)
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.
Once an independent traveler plugs into the coconut telegraph, certain places pop up with amazing regularity. Sihanoukville in southern Cambodia has emerged as one of those hot spots so we landed knowing it would likely have many amenities travellers love- mainly a wide selection of places to stay and eat.
Named after their beloved King Sihanouk who passed away in October and was coincidentally cremated in an elaborate ceremony while we were in Cambodia, Sinville as it is called was developed as the major port for the country in the 1990s. With its lax visa regulations, Cambodia has become a haven for expats who are escaping from Thailand as that country tightens its rules for foreigners who wish long-term stays. In fact a good proportion of the operators of restos and hotels in Sinville are escapees from sleezy pattaya in Thailand- or so we were told.
Independent travel can take its toll- you have to make all the arrangements and count on things to go wrong. Normally we don’t mind but before we departed for Cambodia we saw numerous signs on Koh Maak offering direct minibus service to Sihanoukville, our next destination.
Inquiries were made, associated costs discussed and eventually we settled on a package that would include high-speed boat to the mainland, pick up by deluxe minivan at the dock and onward to our next destination. Keep it simple.
On the appointed day, we headed to the little dock next to our Makathanee Resort in a downpour. To the east a magnificent water spout was rolling across the water, backlit by morning sun- it was eerily beautiful but dissipated before hitting any land mass.
Our high-speed motorboat was an adventure as we bounced along over the waves at a record pace. I enjoyed watching the passengers seated in front bounce about as if they were bobble heads.