Amidst mists, amongst friends

With our short ‘vacation’ to the islands behind us, it appears we have returned to the hard life… Nah, only kidding!

We are back on the mainland, whittling and whiling away our final Cambodian days in the old French colonial town of Kampot. The quaint and sleepy riverside town has captured and embraced our mellow, unhurried mood.

The unassuming – in parts decaying – town is beautiful.

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It is a beauty that extends beyond the city limits – surrounded as it is by jungle, mountains and a land world famous for its pepper and salt. Our first day here was simply spent cycling with friends through this idyllic landscape, marvelling at the salt plains that sat in front of towering mountain peaks; to the soundtrack of village children chasing the wheels of our bikes with whispers, shouts and screams of, ‘HELLO’ as we meandered past.

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It was an incredible day only slightly overshadowed by the celebratory evening that followed. We were saying farewell to the awesome (and incredibly efficient) Germans – Seb and Nicole – who have been stalwart companions to our Cambodian forays… You will be missed in Vietnam! It was an evening of one too many and at the same time not quite enough margheritas, Cajun blackened fish, fajitas on a steaming sizzle plate doused in tequila, a burrito disguised as enchiladas, live music and owners who knew how to have a good time… A really good time! Needless to say we were the last to leave.

… However, I forgot to take my camera (which was probably a good thing as I would inevitably have lost it) so no pictures. Hopefully those that were there will read this and fill in the photographic gaps!

Once the alcohol escaped the system more of Kampot’s beauty was waiting to be discovered, hidden atop Bokor mountain, shrouded in mists and behind curtains of driving rain.

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And so after one failed 4.30am start – due to just too much driving rain – we mounted our trusty ‘Wave scooters’ and set off for the mountain top at 6am… To be met by much more driving rain. At this point our thanks extends to 3 very kind Khmer men who took pity on the poor Westerners – soon to be drowned rats – who invited us into their makeshift tents. Thank you.

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And so after a long hour cowering from rain, thunder and lighting we once again mounted (our very very very wet) scooters and rode once more into the mists. A mist so thick that you could barely make out the lights of the scooter in front. It was awesome and on good quality roads (a first since Thailand) that wound in and out, up and down the Bokor mountain side. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

After a labyrinthine search in the closing mists we finally found the old Bokor hotel. And it was… a disappointment. The hotel itself has recently been renovated and so its soul, its character has been rubbed out, to be replaced by a vacuous concrete copy. The mists, and an opportune shot of some visiting monks, made for some interesting shots…

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… But the true treasure of the hilltop was to be found a km further down the road, unveiled from behind parting clouds. An untouched, ruined and decaying church.

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The real fun though lay in the ride itself. And it was with hope in our hearts for no more rain, and luck on our side that we would actually make it back to town, despite our quickly emptying tanks, we turned our scooters around.

To cut what is quickly becoming a long story short we made it back (Yay!) and to an incredible brunch (including meringue lime pie, a classic breakfast staple), a visit to the flicks to see Raid Redemption (awesome recommendation from our film buff friend Britney) and more rain!

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And we are still in Kampot… But we will leave tomorrow. For sure. We think. Maybe.

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