After a few strange looks from other tourists as we got off the bus in what looked like the middle of nowhere we were picked up from the riverside in a traditional Cambodian river boat and taken on the scenic journey to the lodge. It was breathtaking how clean and quiet the river was. Everything was blue and green for as far as you could see. The lodge has no road access so it is totally secluded surrounded by jungle.
Janet built the lodge after she quit her job as a criminal barrister in England and moved to Cambodia. She has amazing local staff and her hardworking partner G to help her. They are amazing how they manage to run the place by themselves. Plus there is a little zoo forming with adopted animals. The dogs, Sunny and Jimmy, are always looking for a cuddle and the little kitten Psar Cha Marh rules the place. Psar Cha Marh was rescued from the market so they called her 'market cat' in Khmer.
The seven bamboo bungalows are run off solar power and rainwater. They are so comfortable and we even had our own little balcony. There is a big common bungalow which was lovely to spend the day reading and it is also where everyone has the delicious buffet dinner every night. Janet is an awesome cook assisted by Sonny a local Cambodian girl who is so sweet and funny. The food is sensational. It's like being at home. Janet was always making us have second, third and fourth serves (not that I was complaining!)
It has truly been like a holiday from a holiday. All we have done is relax, swim in the river and take the kayaks out for a paddle. Cal and I spent one of the mornings kayaking to the waterfall. It took about an hour to paddle there but it was worth it, we had the whole waterfall to ourselves. I have never seen so many colourful butterflies. The rocks were so slippery we are lucky we didn't break our necks climbing everywhere but it was so much fun.
We spent Christmas day morning kayaking on the river and then relaxing on the deck drinking Pimms with some of the other people staying at the lodge. After our Christmas dinner we drank mulled wine and stayed up chatting with everyone until late. It was the perfect place to spend our first Christmas away from home because we were all each others adopted family for the day. In a way it felt like any other day but we did feel a little homesick when we thought of what our family and friends would be doing at home.
We were very very sad to leave the lodge on Boxing Day but we were super lucky to get a lift to Kep in an air con mini van with some English girls from the lodge. It was by far our most comfortable bus journey and it was way quicker than the local bus. The scenery was beautiful driving along the coast though villages farming rice paddies and water buffalo swimming in the lakes. We arrived feeling refreshed but we were quickly back to reality when we found outrselves homeless on the streets of Kep. But that's a story for another blog...stay tuned...