You Have Not Sweat Until You Have Been to Coastal Cambodia

We woke up in Kep still feeling the repercussions of our short time in Phnom Penh. Doug’s chest was congested and Lynn’s throat was sore all thanks to the dusty roads (we think at least). It is fortunate for us that we can get away from it, but we feel for the people who have to live with those conditions day in and day out. We’re positive that there are a large number of respiratory and eye issues within the population of Phnom Penh.

We did some more trip planning, mainly buying Night Safari tickets during our time in Singapore, and headed to the rooftop patio of our small resort for some breakfast. We were treated to scrambled eggs, bacon, and crusty French bread, all served with a side a fruit. It was a delightful way to start our day overlooking Kep National Park and watching our new puppy friend, Doro, take a nap on the patio with us. Doro, is a very happy and healthy looking resort dog who reminds us very much of one of our puppies back home, so we have taken to calling him “Fake Loki” in her absence.

After lunch we put on our hiking clothes and got directions to a trail in Kep National Park that circumnavigates the peak for views of the neighboring town, Kampot, Vietnam, and the Gulf of Thailand. The directions that we got from the resort instructed us to walk down the main road and up another road towards the Kep Lodge. When at the Kep Lodge we would see a sign pointing us to the trail. We were a bit wary at first because our walk took us through a few backyards and up and very, very steep hill most of which was not shaded. Doug commented, “Haven’t they heard of switchbacks?” as we paused for a moment to catch our breath and drink some water under a thatched roof that may or may not have been someone’s home. We continued our trek up the hill through the forest following arrows painted on wooden signs until we reached a dirt road, which we soon learned was our trail. And, thankfully, the trail had plenty of shade and was only a slight uphill which made the beginning quite enjoyable. The majority of the hike was like this with plenty of shade and pretty, albeit slightly hazy views of the surrounding landscape. We even were able to catch a monkey sneaking looks at us from a tree near one of the lookouts. But, boy was there a lot of sweat. Doug’s red shirt had 3 square inches which were still red. The rest of the shirt was dark red, i.e. a whole lotta sweat. While on our hike we happened upon some lovely British-Floridians (they were British, but also owned property an hour north of Tampa) who commented that they are disappointed that they don’t see too many Americans in this part of the world. So, folks reading this, it’s time to get your butts to Southeast Asia! They also were appalled to learn that we had not been to Fiesta in San Antonio, an event they enjoyed so much they went two years in a row back in the late 90s. So we have added this event we’d never heard of to our bucket-list. It was good that we came across them because we ended up following them the remainder of the way since they had a map and all.

Signs leading the way!
Signs leading the way!
Our resort is the one with the little thatched roof.
Our resort is the one with the little thatched roof.
Kampot off in the distance
Kampot off in the distance
Can you spot the monkey?
Can you spot the monkey?
The British-Floridian friends
The British-Floridian friends

Towards the end we broke away from our British-Floridian friends when we decided that the sun was getting way too hot and we didn’t have nearly enough water to complete the last mile of the hike. Instead we took a side trail down the hill to Kep Beach to get some sustenance in the form of, you guessed it, more water. The large water was a very nice $0.50 so we sucked it down as we walked along the deserted Kep Beach. And we totally understood the desertion because it was really hot and there was absolutely no shade. The 5 people on the beach were foreigners. All the locals had parked themselves under trees along the street or in nearby huts with hammocks. It was then time for lunch so we walked along the water, past crab fishermen checking their traps, until we arrived at the Crab Market. The Crab Market features a number of small restaurants positioned on stilts over the water where you can eat the crab that these fishermen catch and we planned to do just that. After consulting Wikitravel and walking the length of the restaurants we were seated at Crab Kitchen and ordered the Crab with Green Pepper Sauce to share. It was quite a lot of work, but definitely worth it because we both agreed this was the best Cambodian food we had eaten during our stay in this country (note: the other food we liked a lot was actually Burmese food). After devouring the delicious crab, we picked up 6 giant bottles of water (you really couldn’t beat the price) and a bag of rambutans before heading back to our resort.

Kep Beach
Kep Beach
The start of the Crab Market
The start of the Crab Market
Fresh grilled seafood, anyone?
Fresh grilled seafood, anyone?
Crab in Green Pepper Sauce, yum!
Crab in Green Pepper Sauce, yum!

We arrived at our resort still very sweaty and planning to soak up some A/C before doing much else. After about 15 minutes of the A/C not really working for us we put on our swimsuits and jumped in the pool. The pool was warm, but cool enough to bring our bodies back to normal. This was the start of our very lazy afternoon. We lounged by the pool, enjoyed our view of the National Park, loved on Fake Loki, read our books, and ate the bag of rambutans all before deciding that it would be nice to catch the impending sunset down by the Crab Market. Doug quickly finished the chapter he was working on while Lynn finished the rambutans. We changed and took off on foot towards the market. It was clear as we reached the end of our resort’s road that we weren’t going to make it, but we were able to catch a few glimpses of it between trees as we walked.

Doro, aka Fake Loki
Doro, aka Fake Loki
Our view of Kep National Park
Our view of Kep National Park
Goodbye for now, Sun!
Goodbye for now, Sun!

We picked a restaurant solely based on it’s name of Holy Crab and ordered some BBQ squid and spring rolls. Neither need to be written home about, BUT Doug did get one of the best mojitos outside of our home here so it was an ultimate win. While we ate, we took in the views of the bay being lit up by heat lightning rolling in from the west. The lightning was still going strong on our walk back to the resort so we agreed to head to the patio to enjoy it some more. About 5 minutes after we arrived, though, it died down and to quell our anguish we pulled out a deck of cards and continued our ongoing game of Rummy (note: Lynn is in the lead).  By this point the wind started to pick up and the cards were put away briefly until it was decided that we should try to learn how to tell each other’s fortunes with cards. That lasted all of 2 minutes, but then proceeded into us learning that our astrology signs of Leo and Sagittarius are quite compatible! At least when given only sun signs. To fully understand how compatible we are we need to calculate other planet placements from our dates of birth and then have someone interpret them for only $27. It is amazing what the internet can tell us these days. We said no thanks and then goodnight to Fake Loki who we had been loving on during our patio stay before heading to our room for some sleeps.

Just a little bit left at dinner.
Just a little bit left at dinner.
It was meh but it looked pretty
It was meh but it looked pretty.

Daily Walking Mileage: 11.11

Temperature: 89 degrees F

Humidity: 91%

Fun Facts:

  • Kep is 14.5 miles from the Vietnamese border. We originally planned on traveling from Vietnam -> Cambodia -> Thailand, but due to airline prices we did Vietnam -> Thailand -> Cambodia. Someday we will make it to Phu Quoc, the Vietnamese island we were eyeing.
  • Kep and neighboring town, Kampot, are known for their crab cooked in locally sourced pepper. Today was crab, but tomorrow we visit the pepper farm!
  • On our hike we could see the nearby salt farms. Salt is harvested in low-lying areas by flooding the area, cutting off the water, then letting the remaining water evaporate. This leaves the salt waiting to be harvested.
Our view of the salt flats.
Our view of the salt farms.

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