I forgot the weariness of the old Cambodian favourite compliment "ahh you got sooo fat. Do you have baby?" - I now just admit it that yes, "I ate too much..." - It is like saying, in the western world, "daaahrrrrling you've lost so much weight". Basically, in Cambodia, if you are fat (anything over a UK size 8) , you must have money to eat so you are therefore rich. This is a good thing and therefore a compliment!! Funny it doesn't feel that way when they are poking at your beer belly...
Anyway, the last 4 days were spent at Kep seaside town with the 4 children from the children's centre and then 2 days at Kampot, a delightful colonial old town (subject to the comments below that is...)
The trip with the children was good. Mainly the visit revolved around walking around the seaside town and eating all kinds of seafood with the famous Kampot pepper. My favourite place to eat on the seafront in Kep is a restaurant called Kimly. Its right at the end of a row of shed like buildings offering various delicious seafood. Kimly is by far the best and the size of the prawns is amazing!
In Kampot, I was looking forward to staying at Rikitikitavi guesthouse as in the past it had always been fully booked....On arrival they didn't have the booking! Not ideal, but a room was at least available for one night. Cycling around Kampot is great and so with the aid of a bike that only had one gear (the one for cycling up really big hills...and Kampot is flat) a day was spent getting sun burnt and going back to a Cham (Muslim) village near to Kampot where I had been before. This time opposite the mosque in a tiny local cafe I entertained 4 amused village children had a drink of coffee for less than 5p! The teacher of the local school looked on as the English speaker of the village did some impressive translation.
Kampot is my favourite town in Cambodia - It is relaxed and charming. However, it has been somewhat ruined by the Governor of the town allowing a Russian businessman permission to turn a riverfront building into a hideous Khmer club. Imagine a peaceful town with a beautiful river front... an amazing fiery red sunset... the sound of the birds - and then the thump thump of the bad Khmer karaoke/dance track. It is completely out of character for the area. In fact it doesn't seem to be doing anything for the people of Kampot. Tourism along the riverfront is down for the guesthouses there (the noise drives the guests away) and the people who tend to go to the bar are Cambodian children of the age that really shouldn't be drinking and hanging out in bars/clubs. A bad idea in all ways - However, money talks and clearly the Russian has more money to gift to the Governor than the other bar/guesthouse owners....
A place of recommendation along the river front is Jasmine. A wonderful small restaurant run by a Khmer woman and her expat husband (but she is very much in control). Not only is the food delicious she is a wealth of information and opinions on Khmer culture and attitudes. Pop in!!
Now back in Phnom Penh...Its raining hard... I have been gifted a delightful green rain cape (thanks David!) so now I look like a "traditional" motorbike taxi man but at least I am dry. Lovely.