We are BLOGGING our new trip over on TravelPod, posting on FaceBook and provide way cool photos on our Flickr pool, as we find WordPress a bit cumbersome.
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.
Koh Maak, Thailand, near the coast of Cambodia: Jan. 25 – Feb. 2, 2013
Red dragonflies. Blue pool. Green palms. Violet flowers. Golden sand. Bright sunshine. Rolling surf. Twittering birds. Sizzling fish. Ahh… what more could one ask for?
It was the day before the full moon. The tide was up, the water a bit rough, but the air was hot and the sun shone bright. Lots to look forward to at our newest destination: Koh Maak, a quiet 16-square mile jungle and rubber tree covered volcanic island about an hour speedboat ride from the pier near the town of Trat. We picked Koh Maak out of the many islands that hug both coasts of Thailand because it promised little in the way of activity except tropical breezes and good eats, and after the pace of Chaing Mai we were ready to scale down the excitement level.
Jan. 18 – Jan. 25, 2013
After a mellow and spiritually uplifting couple of days in the nearly 800-year-old city of old Sukhothai, arriving in Chiang Mai was a bit of a shock. While we were certainly aware things had changed since our memorable first visit in 1989, when we had traveled here from Bangkok (a slow, hot, long train ride) with Chris’s mom Ange, merely travelling the short distance from the train station to our hotel revealed how incredibly busy the city had become. No longer a peaceful haven from loud, busy, polluted Bangkok, it seemed that “progress” and tourism had turned this northern hill tribe centre into a smaller version of the capital.
Our spirits sank, especially as the nearly 10-hour train ride here from Sukhathai had exactly been a picnic: cramped, slow, dirty, cock roach invested, and it even caught on fire about an hour and a half outside of Chiang Mai! Fortunately, no one was hurt and there was no structural damage as the fire started underneath the carriage of one of the cars. No bus or other alternative transport was provided; we were all loaded back on and the train carried on.