We met Cheang at 9.30 and headed off to Kep. After yesterdays bumpy journey we are all relieved to see the road is good and despite the lack of air con (Cheang explains it won’t work in his car due to the frequent trips up to Bokor) its cool enough with the windows all down. We arrive in Kep and find somewhere for breakfast, a gorgeous wooden hut style resort with the most amazing views over the sea to Vietnam. We stuff our faces with pancakes. Ali and Simon have bacon, baguettes and “cheese cow” which I correctly guessed to be Dairy Lee Triangles!
Like Bokor Hill Station, Kep was mostly abandoned in the 1970′s when the Khmer Rouge drove everyone out into the rice field labour camps. Many of the beautiful French colonial villas still lie empty although Cheang tells us they are being quickly bought up by foreigners. Hardly surprising as it is one of the most peaceful and naturally beautiful places I have seen.
After breakfast we head for the beach and quickly become a tourist attraction for a van full of villagers who have come to the seaside for the day. We try the spiky Durian fruit. It is sold all over Asia and well loved by the Asians but generally detested by westerners. It absolutely stinks, a combination of rotten meat ad fish and is banned from nearly all hotels and the MRT train system in Singapore. Although we all give it our best go, we don’t eat much each although Cheang wolfs it down!
Several hours later and we are ready to try the local crab which turns out to be delicious and cheap cooked with local green and black pepper. We all enjoy this even Maisie who tells us determinedly that she doesn’t like crab and has tried it many times before. (Crabsticks maybe!)
In the afternoon we drive the short distance to the local caves, we have to walk through a small village to get there and collect a large group of local children on the way. We have noticed that the kids in Kampot don’t beg for money as much and although “one dollar” is still their favourite saying they guide us to the cave and show us their temple inside so we’re happy to give it .Ali and Cheang climb back through the cave complex on their bellies and we walk down the steps outside.
That many people live in poverty is obvious in Cambodia and like in India, children begging for money are hard to ignore. In Phnom Penh we saw many little kids aged around 4 begging with tiny babies (perhaps 1-2 months old) in their arms. Both Simon and I would like to contribute something more in the future when Ali and Maisie have left home perhaps. But for now even though it might not be the most helpful contribution we just give some small change to the kids sometimes and hope it does go towards food for them.
In the evening Simon spends an hour doing some science with the kids. They have been learning about light and reflection. I have been looking through their science curriculum and it seems we are on track at the moment with their science at least. Which is good.
We have some dinner, Simon and I try the pork volcano, his choice and its very good the fella cooks it at the table which the kids enjoy watching. We then hunt for an internet cafe. Internet access is fairly poor here but we want to update our website and check a few emails. That done Maisie and I head back to The Bokor Hotel. We are leaving Cambodia tomorrow for Vietnam. I feel very sad about this. In the end we have only spent 10 days here and hardly scratched the surface.
I read before we came that no one visits Cambodia and leaves without a measure of admiration for the spirit of the Khmer people. This is definitely true for us. In every way Cambodia is absolutely stunning. From the fantastic Angkor Temples to the evilness of the Khmer Rouge we have been completely captivated by the history, the people and the beauty of the land. With India it has been without a doubt my favourite place we have visited so far and I’ve loved it here. We agreed today that Cambodia hasn’t seen the last of us that’s for sure!