Kampot, where we based ourselves is a strange little town. Or so it seemed when we arrived just after midday. The sun was hot, the streets were quiet-ish, and the atmosphere was hard to establish. But the draw here was the quaint riverside and the promise of the best Crab feast of my life.
We stayed at Rikki Tikki Tavi. A bustling guesthouse on the main road overlooking the river. A central location, no doubt, and perfectly comfortable. But as discovered on our boat ride down the river, there were some pretty magical looking abodes further out of town.
Sunset cruises down the river have the tendency to sound better than they are. Especially when you can be cramped on a vessel with a heap of strangers. Not for us. We hired Bart the Boatman. A softspoken Belgian expat with grey dreads practically down to his ankles. Bart took us to a quiet tributary along the water for a swim, chopped some fresh fruit, offered us some fresh weed, and treated us to some private nooks and crannies in the palm lined waters. What Bart lacked in chattability, he more than made up for in memorability.
The next morning, we hopped in a TukTuk to take in the Salt Mines and Pepper Plantation of Kampot. And then 30 minutes further onto nearby Kep, home of famous Crab Market. Bustling on our Sunday visit, fisherman are bringing trap-fulls of fresh catch for purchase by stallholders and local restaurants.
GIRLS GOTTA EAT
In Kampot, we happened upon a converted tuk tuk turned craft beer and sushi pop-up. With a solo speaker, streaming jazz tunes; only the Japanese are clever enough to come up with this sort of quirk and charm.
Chase your local IPA with a cocktail at Bar Aca, the most heavenly fresh ginger and star anise martini.
In Kep, we had lunch at Kimly, a restaurant on the waterfront just metres from the market.
PROTIP: Order the crab fried rice. All the meat, none of the work. I will be dreaming about that dish for years to come.