Cambodia, Destinations, Travel log

Kampot: Pepper and Old Friends

Follow the sign!

We arrived in Kampot, Cambodia by mid-morning. Hungry, of course 🙂 We spotted a nice restaurant not far from where we were dropped: Epics Art Cafe. It happened to be a place that promotes inclusion for the disabled people. It offered not only good food but also nice handicrafts pieces. One of our favorite was the collection of Little Monsters: all have a disability but also a super power (for instance the blind monster has a super hearing!). Very cute.

We then took a tuk-tuk to our hotel, a bit out of town, and after a bumpy road and past a small mangrove river, we finally arrived. It was a very peaceful place, well arranged and decorated. There we got our priorities straight: shower, power nap and you know it … food!

We then enjoyed a kayaking loop in the mangrove. Silviu was rowing, I was filming and taking pictures. Fair share I say. It was really quiet and peaceful there as we were almost alone. From time to time we would pass in front of those bamboo shelters where people gather to rest and have picnics; kids were also enjoying swimming in the refreshing water. It was almost idyllic if it wasn’t for, as always, the littering. What a shame.

Our host at the hotel was telling us that when they started the construction of the guesthouse she had to stop in extremis one of the worker that was about to throw the content of a wheelbarrow into the river just in front! She had to explain him that this was not ok but he could not understand what was wrong… Another expatriate in the region even built a small incinerator to help dealing with the issue. Still a long way to go though.

In the evening we joined our friends in a lodge not too far in order to enjoy a drink at sunset. The place was lovely and the view on the river was the perfect spot for sunset! And I was also so thrilled about seeing my friends again!! I met Rita and Ehren back to the time we were all living in Laos and visited them again in the Philippines a couple years ago. This is where I also met Caoimhe (pronounced “Kifa”) who also happened to be on holidays visiting Kampot at the exact same time! And we got to meet Linda, an old friend of Ehren who was also visiting. The best crew! With a very special addition: Flynn the lovely son of Rita and Ehren, an adorable little boy, who with his blond hair and blue eyes attracts a lot of attention in that region!

And the luckiest part for us: not only Rita is a great cook, Ehren a great BBQ chief, but Linda happened to be a Malysian chef back in Vancouver! Happy us, with excellent food for dinner back at their place!

Funnily, it seems that the house next door to them, used to have a Romanian-Spanish couple living. Unfortunately, they did not live there anymore, so Silviu did not get a chance to meet his first compatriot on this trip. But we will keep you posted on this when it happens 🙂

Next day we head out to visit an unmissable Kampot Pepper field. We are highly recommended to go to “La Plantation” and we understand why! Visits in English or French are fully free and very interesting. The whole experience is more like an all-day activity since the fields spread over 20 ha and offer the famous Kampot pepper. Aside that, they also produce long pepper, paprika and a wide range of fruits! We started the degustation with a group of 8 people but ended doing the tour with only another couple which allowed us to ask a lot of question! We discovered that:

  • red pepper are collected and sorted by hand (someone is actually separating the red pepper form the dark pepper, one by one);
  • the ones that do not turn red are collected green and can be cooked as it is (by grapes even) or are dried out and give the black pepper;
  • white pepper comes from the green pepper too but their skin is taken out in the process;
  • long pepper grow upward and are from India;
  • passion fruits and dragon fruits grow on vines;
  • a pineapple tree gives only one fruit in its life (one year) and the fruit takes 2,5 month to mature (keep this in mind when you buy one next time), so if there are so many around it is because it is a very easy to grow plant, that doesn’t require a lot of care or water;
  • pomegranate grow on bushes not on trees (and the trees are quite small also);
  • flower salt are obtained by scraping the layer under the normal salt.

After the visit in very warm weather we were looking for a refreshment and discovered that they had ice-cream for sale including the famous ice-cream with Kampot pepper! For real, ice-cream with dark pepper. So we opted for a lime pepper ice-cream and a passion fruit one. It was delicious, absolutely great! You could really feel the pepper while the lime was really refreshing. As for the passion fruit you could really feel the fruit, yummy!

We were also brought some banana chips with Kampot salt and peanuts mixed with Kampot salted pepper. We were tempted to bring some pepper with us but the packaging were not the best to travel with for another few months.

Afterwards, we decided to ride up to Phnom Chngok, a temple inside a mountain cave. The dirt road allows us to cross the countryside with its beautiful scenery and small villages. Everywhere kids are running to us to say Hello with a big smile on their face. So cute! The Cave is not that easy to find and Google Maps make us cross some tiny wooden bridges (Silviu was a bit scared) and passing by some very bad parts of the road. Good challenge for Silviu, beginner (let’s call him expert for now) driver who managed super well!

Once at the Cave, it is impossible to not get a guide as they will follow you anyway. We ended up with 2 little girls and we don’t regret it since they showed us the path to go up by normal stairs and down by the cave. When I say “we” here, I actually mean Silviu as I really didn’t feel like going down the wet cave in my slippery shoes! But of course monkey Silviu headed down there, and he really enjoyed it! He had to crawl in order to pass through some very tiny passage at the exit of the cave…

It was now time to head back to town to meet our friends for a sunset boat tour. Of course they are late  (old habit of them) so Silviu and I took that opportunity to relax by the river with a fresh beer. The good part of being late is that boats are trying to attract us before departing (last-minute customers) and we end up having 2 free beers each with our 5USD ticket, seems like we will enjoy the tour! Well installed on the rooftop of the boat, we depart for our almost 2 hours of cruise. The sunset behind the mountains over the river is beautiful and the company lovable. In the middle of the cruise we stopped, all lights off, to observe fireflies in the trees; it definitely look like a lighting Christmas garland!

In the evening we cannot follow our friends back to their place because we need to bring back the scooter so instead we follow their recommendation for a cheap good eats at Ecran Noodles. The menu is limited to 3 dishes: noodles, dumplings (fried or steamed) and soup with noodles. We opted for the 2 first ones and a fresh coconut… Yes I DID DRINK OUT OF A FRESH COCONUT!! I still don’t like coconut but after accepting coconut milk, I will now add coconut water on my list of tolerated variations 😉

Back (alive!) to the hotel we stayed a little hour with our host and other guests.

It was an amazing experience that we will remember with a smile on our face.

Next beer on you? Beers cheers

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One thought on “Kampot: Pepper and Old Friends

  1. Michael says:

    Ohh, I’ve been to Kampot many years ago. I love that place, I hope it did not change too much …

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