We travel to Kep on Christmas morning by tuk tuk - it's only 25 k's. We're staying at Kep Lodge for one night then going next door to a cheaper place called Tree Top. Due to a couple of comical emails, in which I and the guesthouse owner struggled to understand each other, we dropped into Tree House when we were out on a moto cruise from Kampot. This was just as well cause we scored a great little Khmer style bungalow there. Cheap too.
Christmas day feels even less christmassy in Cambodia but the owners of Kep Lodge put on a Christmas dinner for homesick westerners. They even had turkey! I joked with a couple of Dutch people that Tara heard them slaughtering it in the afternoon.
We ended up joining a number of other people round a big table and sharing the meal followed by a number of drinks. They also had an excellent pool table and I reckon I played about twenty games with a Swiss dude and a couple of the staff.
The next day we explore a little of Kep and soak up the scenery. It's a really pretty little town set along a varied piece of coastline with a very relaxed atmosphere. Oddly though, there is both a trade fair and a boat race on while we're here so it is really busy.
Kep is full of decaying villas abandoned by their rich French owners when colonial rule came to an end. They are now either completely derelict or used by local squatters. It gives Kep a feeling of apocalyptic decay, lost splendor. It seems to be on the brink of being remade though. There's certainly a lot of French tourists here - and a lot of expats running guesthouses. It completes the defacto French Riviera feeling of southern coastal Cambodia. There's also evidence of new money flooding into the place with lots of construction. I reckon it'll be very different in five years.
We ride around town on bikes which is a great way to see the quiet waterfront. At one point a convoy of gleaming Lexi (that's plural for Lexus-hello Alan Partridge fans) streams past. The Khmer elite have a thing for polished Japanese automobiles replete with shiny mags and tinted windows. They kinda stand out next to the grubby motos and tuk tuks. I guess they're in town for the trade fair. The shineyness of your car seems to directly correspond to your social standing in Cambodia-and it's a very dusty place.
On Sunday there are lots of Khmer people picnicking along the waterfront and setup for the following day's boat race is in full swing. We eat numerous times at the crab market where we partake in the local speciality, crab and fresh Kampot green pepper. They also have amazing prawns and squid-I'm glad I'm eating seafood now that's for sure. I don't remember eating crab before although I get the hang of it pretty quickly. It's a tricky little critter to eat but well worth the effort. There are fishermen (and women) out in front of the little restaurants in the water with baskets containing live crabs. The restaurants can buy them direct meaning they are
fresh as can be and man they're good.
On Monday, our last day in Kep, we head out to Rabbit, or Koh Tonsay, Island. It's twenty minutes by longboat and is reportedly the best little untouched beach in Cambodia. We spend the day lounging in hammocks and swimming. It's quite an idyllic spot with none of the hassles of more spoilt beaches but I've seen better. I guess Australians are spoilt when it comes to sand and sea.
We're off to Siem Reap tomorrow to check out Angkor so a day of peace was required before a hard day on the bus. Then it'll be on to Laos by about the second or third of Jan.