After a bit over 1.5months in Vietnam I am finally in Cambodia. We booked the trip from Phu Quoc, in Vietnam, to Kampot in Cambodia through a tour so all our visa stuff was taken care of, at a price obviously. The ferry from Phu Quoc to Ha Tien (at the Vietnamese border) was pretty uneventful unless you count the locals retching due to sickness or other locals filming the same scene of the inside of the tiny boat for nearly 10mins-15mins! From Ha Tien it was a simple bus ride to Kampot.
Kampot is an hr away from Vietnam but it feels SO different. Once we crossed the border it seemed like the landscape just opened up. The roads were wide, in a better condition, there was less pollution, the rice paddies huge. The food here is different too. There’s not much of a street food scene in Kampot (and probably not in the rest of Cambodia from what I’ve heard) but restaurants and cafes have Cambodian, Italian, Mexican and Asian food which is probably due to the big expat community here. The people too look very different to their Vietnamese neighbours. Their features are so different and some are fair and some so dark, you can really tell that Vietnamese and Cambodians come from 2 very different races unlike say Indians and Pakistanis who would look similar to anyone who is not from the region. It’s incredible.
Anyways, it seems like a chose a very “good” time to come to Kampot. The city has had no water since the last 4 days and there won’t be any for the next 5 days! I know backpacking is about traveling rough but god, anything less than 2 showers a day and I get major grumpy. But after a night in a no-water hostel, I was lucky to find one just outside the town that somehow has water. And I moved there first thing the next morning!
Bokor National park
The 2 guys that I traveled from Phu Quoc with and I decided to rent 2 bikes and ride around the Bokor National Park. We were supposed to rent scooters but these guys came back with dirt bikes! The bikes looked a tad intimidating and I was worried coz I had never been one before but it turned out to be a blast, thanks to Joel riding skills! I even enjoyed the speed which was a first for me.
So anyways, we rode a total of around 90kms in the park. The day was overcast but that didn’t stop us enjoying the ride through roads that would twist and turn at amazing angles and the scary hair pin bends. It was stunning to be surrounded by mountains covered in lush green trees.
There’s no trekking in the national park but just some stops along the way which are a bit ‘meh’ but I think this park is all about the view and not the touristy stops. My favourite was being able to see the Phu Quoc island where we’d just come from!
So Joel and I decided to go for a hike in the Kep National Park. Kep is around 30mins from Kampot so we rented bikes (a scooter this time!) and set off around 11am. The hike trail was well laid out and it was a fairly easy walk except the mid day sun beating down on us which made it very tiring.
We did a 5km loop and decided to head to the famous crab market for some lunch. I opted for Sauteed Crab with Kampot pepper and spring onions. It was delicious! I’ve never eaten crab in a shell so it was super messy but so worth it!
If you ever find yourself in Kampot you must visit Ciao, which is an Italian street food stall run but an Italian guy who decided he didn’t want to pay rent for a restaurant anymore. We tried the pizza, ravioli and gnocchi and they were fantastic!
Also check out the Rusty Keyhole by the riverside which is run by a British expat. The variety of food, the quality, the price and the riverside location are fabulous. I lost count of how often I went there during my 4 day stay in Kampot. Oh and they’ve won 2 awards for the best ribs in Cambodia. I don’t care about awards but the ribs were simply delicious!