I always knew I was going to like Kampot, I had heard a lot of good stories from friends over the years. I wasn’t prepared for just how cool a place it was though. Many of the ex-pat locals had fled Sihanoukville after a sudden massive surge in Chinese funded development of illegal casinos and hotels had all but destroyed the lovely and hedonistic beach scene there. Kampot so far has managed to hold off the major development that has happened around Siem Reap/ Angkor Wat and down the coast and the locals appreciate it.
Some local transport , improvisation is the key here!!
The days had turned into weeks and I had no particular wish to leave. I was making friends and discovering new things everyday. Visiting the local Markets and sites with new friends and over indulging in the cheap local beer and weed.
Pepper on sale
Just outside the covered market is a prime selling spot.
Inside is a bit of a rabbit warren.
While most people will hire a moped, it’s perfectly possible here to travel everywhere around Kampot on a bicycle and I found lazy afternoons cycling around the old French town centre high and happy a really great way to spend the afternoon.
And if your dreadlocks are too long you can always attach a handy basket to hold them!!
The town has a charming friendly feel and everything is well priced compared to Thailand, from accommodation and food to the copious supply of weed and edibles.
There are plenty of places to explore on day trips in every direction and just 40 minutes rickshaw drive down the coast road is the beautiful but haunting old French colonial coastal holiday town of Kep. Once described as the Asian riviera it saw horrendous protracted fighting during the war here which has left the stunning villas pockmarked with damage from small arms and artillery. Most of the villas remain abandoned and you can ride for miles along old boulevards with lonely gates closing off empty plots of land and broken down villas. It really is an incredible place that brings up all kinds of different emotions.
The modern Kep is a small affair clustered around a fresh fish and shellfish market with tables and bars where you can eat until you can walk for a few dollars. There is a little beach which draws in happy crowds of Khmer and a must visit if you ever make it to south Cambodia.
Salt fields just outside Kampot centre are also an easy visit but best to go at sunset or sunrise as it gets oppressively hot during the day with little shelter. That doesn’t stop the tough local ladies from gathering in the salt though and if you go there try and say hello, you will find them very welcoming and funny.
The pepper farms are a big attraction too and most of these trips can be organised with a tuk-tuk driver in Kampot centre or from your guest house. They will take you wherever you want and make sure you are safe. Always tip as the normal charges are very low anyway and in Cambodia, your extra couple of dollars really helps. For us to drive to Kep 45 minutes away, have the driver wait for us as we had lunch, visit the salt fields on the way home and stop a few times along the way for drinks and spliff rolling breaks we paid $20 for most of the day so tipping an extra $10 was a no brainer and the smile we got from our driver was worth every cent.
The only thing that’s missing is official trips to the cannabis growing fields but I don’t think that will be too many years away hopefully!
A friends plant in the back garden, although surrounded by weed farms this was the closest I got to a plant on this part of the trip sadly. Luckily there was plenty of bud to make up for it !!
Some nice trim hash from America.
On all these trips I smoked basically everywhere without concern, I never felt at risk anywhere and no one really seemed to notice anyway. I would suggest not walking down the street with a joint or smoking near children etc but in most bars and restaurants its ok to politely ask if you can roll up and normally the answer is yes.