Thursday, September 17, 2009
We have now spent several idle days in seaside Kep, where though the rains have poured down, our enthusiasm for crab has not yet waned. Sleepy Kampot makes Kep look dead – there are hardly any other people here, at most a handful of other Western tourists, and since it isn't a weekend there aren't even very many Khmers here. Our hotel has only one other guest, and he is only staying here while he renovates and repairs his own house right next door. Thankfully, relaxation is the name of the game here regardless of business, so we're just doing what we're supposed to.
Tomorrow, however, our entire demeanor will change, as the 18th is when our Cambodian visa expires and our Vietnamese one becomes active. We plan on crossing the border at Ha Tien, Vietnam, and then taking a boat to Phu Quoc island for a short beach session before cycling towards Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon). Just like here in Cambodia, we know we will experience time pressure to see and do all that we want to in the 30 days that we have, so although we'd love to spend a full week at the beach, it's simply not feasible.
For now though, it's just relaxing at our hotel, the garden-filled Botanica, playing pool and reading books, and then a bit later we'll take another ride around town. We've eaten crab everyday we've been here, and plan on keeping that streak alive tonight, since $4 for a tasty plate of Kampot Pepper Crab is simply unbeatable. The peppercorns are green and fresh, still on their slender stems, full of a robust flavor that lacks the sharpness of fully grown black pepper. To say it is delicious is practically an understatement.
Kep also has some other unique cuisine, particularly given how rural this area of Cambodia truly is. Yesterday we enjoyed some fresh bakery goods from the new Salt + Pepper Bakery, their chocolate cake and granola were particularly scrumptious, the former soft and gooey and full of flavor, the later baked well with seasonings and quite crunchy.
El Dorado, Cambodia's only Hungarian restaurant, is also serving up fine letcho and gnocchi stew, as well as wood-oven pizzas. We also found some great hammocks by the sea, perfect for lounging and drinking in the late afternoon. The town is known for its spectacular sunsets, of which weather has denied us all but one, though tonight's is shaping up to be pretty impressive given the current blistering heat.
So now we've taken our sunset ride around town, and it was certainly quite successful:
We went on a dirt trail through the national park here, which gave us a great vantage point to photograph Mother Nature in action.
Now we're back to relaxing, after enjoying a fantastic Kampot Pepper Crab dinner (again), drinking a few Klangs and we're about to enjoy some tasty cheese and salami. Yum.
Next time it'll be from Vietnam,