After about a week of relaxing in Sihanoukville, we reluctantly left our Ochheuteal Bungalows hosts, and booked a cab to Kampot. It had no air conditioning, which wouldn’t have been too bad except for Cambodia’s ubiquitous red dust sifting through the windows from the dirt road.
The first we saw of Kampot was its riverfront, a great legacy from the French occupation. Later, we wandered along it’s (relatively) wide boulevard and admired the old lampposts with a French/Khmer motif. This is, truly, a cow town.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the town’s charm under the dust, but there are some great old colonial buildings on the wide boulevards, as well as some I would describe as "tropical modern."
It’s interesting; I can see a lot of both colonial and modernist influence in the new architecture here, and in Vietnam too.
It’s as though both of those eras of French architecture have had the dominant influence on current ideas about architecture in these parts. Oh and there are a lot of pretty French-style awnings here too.
Wandering around one night, we walked by the center of town, where there’s a covered pavilion. Hundreds, maybe thousands of people were gathered around the pavilion on foot, bicycle and moto. The big event turned out to be a lottery drawing.
I enjoyed the delicate crepes at our guesthouse — the best so far. But the eggs were odd — sweet for some reason. And they serve coffee with condensed milk here, like in Vietnam. One night we had a some nice barbecue at a British owned pub called the Rusty Keyhole.
Most locals we’ve met in Cambodia in general have been very friendly. In Kampot, all around town, children and adults stared at us, waved to us and said hello. I guess we were more of a novelty in Kampot than other places.
And there were some friendly folks at the internet cafe who wanted to show their toddler to me. They kept trying to get her to wave or say hello but she was shy. Finally, they thrust her in my face for a kiss, and she looked vaguely terrified of the strange westerner. Ah well.
Then, there was a Cambodian man at the guesthouse who had a cockney accent. I asked if he’d lived in London, and the crazy thing is, he’s never been. He learned it all from English travelers.
Oh and there were lots of dogs and Saarinen-looking bamboo chairs at the guesthouse too.
We didn’t stay in Kampot that long; we could have stayed longer and tooled around on motos, but for some reason we were driven to get to Phnom Penh. We’re simultaneously addicted to and tired of cities.