Due to Kep being a bit more expensive than we had liked for accommodation and food we planned to stay at the cheapest place in Kampot which happened to be Jack’s place at $2.50 a night for a dorm bed. Apparently, Jack himself is supposed to be lovely but we never met him. We were shown to our dorm beds by a scrawny chavvy English kid that was smoking weed and playing terrible music. We were supposed to be staying in an 8-bed dorm and instead we were in a metal container stuffed with about 20 dorm beds. It had one creaky door on the street front that didn’t really shut properly and definitely didn’t lock. At the back of the dorm was just an opening where another door should be but wasn’t, which led to two wet, dirty toilets with showers. The dorm got incredibly hot at night, there were tonnes of bugs due to it being open and we did not sleep well. We were glad we only booked a night there and thankfully just down the road was Monkey Republic where we managed to get our own clean private room and bathroom for not too much more a night between us.
In the first afternoon, we walked around a bit and found ourselves at Espresso Coffee a lovely coffee shop owned by some Australians. We hid in there for a while with our iced coffees ($1.50) trying to keep out of the stifling heat.
When it was a bit cooler we walked to the riverside which was very pretty and had a gorgeous sunset. We also looked around briefly taking in the prices and types of restaurants/ shops etc that there were.
There are lots of roundabouts in Kampot, something there is not very much of anywhere else. They had some interesting statues of a giant durian fruit, a 2016 sign with some doves and the salt miners which we had to walk past each time to get from our place to town. We had a drink at Monkey Republic during their happy hour (draft beer $0.75) whilst we booked our room for the following few days. In the evening we met up with Krista (who we had met at the Gibbon experience and spent time with in Luang Prabang). We met her at Ecran Noodles which is an incredibly cheap place for hand-pulled noodles and dumplings of the steamed and fried variety. ($2.50 for noodle dishes, $2 for about 10 dumplings). We spent our evening catching up on each other’s adventures and went for more cheap draft beers. When we got back it was still fairly early so Dave and I played cards for a bit on the roof of our hostel before spending our one night in there which we weren’t looking forward too.
We woke up quite early as we wanted to spend as little time in the dorm room as possible and walked across the road to the Magic Sponge as they did a $1 budget breakfast where you could get a small coffee, egg (type of your choosing) and toast for $1. Due to our lack of sleep we upgraded by $0.50 to a large coffee. They did really good poached eggs and we had breakfast here most mornings as it was so cheap. We then ventured out to the fresh market which was actually much bigger inside than it looked from outside and explored all the different types of stalls- clothes and sewists, shoes, bags, spices, sweets, fruits, seafood, meats, bakery products.
After this we still had a bit of time to kill before we could check in at Monkey Republic so we headed to Ellie’s cafe where we I had a juice ($2) and dave had a peanut butter and banana shake ($2.50). Once we had checked into our room and sorted a few bits out we head to a locals restaurant called Jasmine 2000 which did very nice pork and rice for $1. Then we went and booked a boat tour down the river- one of the main things to do in Kampot, at Captain Chim’s. We chilled out at the hostel until time to meet back there at 4.50pm where we were transferred to a small wooden boat with a few deck chairs placed on deck and a cooler of beers. The cruise was very nice, it was incredibly peaceful and the scenary was amazing. The sunset was gorgeous colours and although we only got to see a couple of fireflies after dark (as it was full moon and had been raining) we still got to see a couple. We even commandered a bigger boat partway through the cruise so half of us could use their toilet. The trouble with having beer earlier on on the cruise. On returning we ate at Captain Chim’s restaurnat where the food was actually quite tasty. In the evening we relaxed in the common area/ bar of Monkey Republic playing cards (spit and speed) with Dave eventually winning.
We got up early the next morning, had breakfast at Magic Sponge and then rented a 125cc scooter for the day from Bison Tours opposite our hostel. We promptly called it the “golden bison” and we set out to Bokor National Park. After about five minutes we had to come back as I realised in the rush I hadn’t actually put my helmet on but then we were off again. Dave navigated the streets to get onto the main highway where we drove past lots of street side restaurants, classic cambodian wooden homes on stilts, cows and bison as well as some water buffalos, lots of stray dogs and gorgeous views of the rolling hills of Bokor national park to the right of us. We turned into the national park and took the long scenic journey all the way to the top. Once up there we explored the old casino, although you no longer walk around this as it is guarded off for renovations but it still looked very creepy sitting on top of the hill side abandoned with thick fog covering the hills behind it. We did manage to look around some other abandoned properties though which was interesting. We sat at the top of the hill looking into the mist and having some Julie’s peanut butter biscuits (the snacks we live on out here as they are so good!) and luckily the mist cleared for the briefest of minutes revealing the green canopy of the national park below it. Next we scootered back to the old church to have a look around. During the fighting between the khmer rouge and vietnamese there was a battle here with oneside taking sanctuary in the old casino and one side taking refuge in the church. After this we rode around to the left of the modern chinese temple and continued on the path there. There was a lot to see in this small bit. To start with we found a rock to sit on that looked straight over the national park and the sea. Initially it was too foggy to make anything out however after a few minutes the mist lifted and we got amazing views. The noise you could hear of all the insects, birds and monkeys was incredibly and we even saw an incredibly huge bird fly past over the trees (I am pretty sure it was a Great Hornbill- Dave). There was also lots of buddha statues in the garden as well as a modern temple being used by the monks and some old temples that were interesting to explore. After an interesting morning we made our way back down to the entrance (about 40 minutes) via the statue of the protector of travellers and the an old kings residence full of grafity, overrun by weeds.
Instead of heading straight to town we turned left instead of going back over the bridge as we were looking for Greenhouse restaurant that had been mentioned to us the night before. We turned off the road where the sign was and had to continue about another 700m on a dirt path going past houses, cows and school children. We arrived to a lovely garden and a wooden terrace restaurant overlooking the riverfront with gorgeous views of the river. We splurged a bit and had lunch here having fish amok ($4.75) and fried squid with kampot pepper ($4.75) as well as trying their chocolate chip cookies with red kampot pepper which were delcious ($1). At the restaurant/ resort here they have a small deck straight out on to the river so we cooled off by jumping and swimming in the river which felt amazing. You can also rent kayaks, paddle boards and tubes from the place as well as them doing private boat tours (bit out of our budget though!). A lovely spot to check out in Kampot if you want somewhere to relax on the river. If we came here again I would definitely find accomodation on the river as it is like a completley different world. Once we dried off a bit we returned the bike and chilled at Monkey Republic enjoying a jug of beer in their happy hour before going out for a cheap dinner at Happy Pizza, having noodles and fried rice for a couple of dollars each.
The following day was a very lazy one. At mid morning we walked to Cafe Espresso where we had coffees (Dave even had an affogato- ice cream + espresso), brunch/ lunch of a chorizo burger ($4.50), pork tacos ($4.50) and sweet potato fries ($2) which was all delcious. We hung out there for most of the day catching up on blogs, looking at islands to stay on, playing with the family’s dog as well as their little boy that kept finding toys to show us and give us. In the evening we walked around town a bit doing some filming, had $2 chilli dogs, cheap $0.50 beer and wandered around the night market. This was only small though and only really suited to locals that wanted to buy clothes.
In the morning we had our budget breakfast at Magic sponge, did some blog posts and then met the tuk-tuk transfer outside the tour agents across the road for us to get the minibus to Sihanoukville.