Kampot feels like paradise compared to Phnom Penh, the smells and rubbish have gone, there’s big open fields and wide roads, bliss! The place we stayed was amazing, it was set on the river with a load of bamboo tree houses to sleep in. It even had it’s own restaurant bar over the river complete with hammocks and a diving board.
After a tasty lunch we hired a motorbike and headed out to Bokor National Park. Once you get through the gate it’s a 40 minute drive up winding roads until the top. We got absolutely battered by the rain on the way up, one minute it looked perfectly clear and the next rain drops the size of golfballs were smacking us. We’d come too far to turn around so we soldiered on until the top and then took refuge under a shrine with a group of other clueless bikers. When the rain looked just about manageable we went to explore, at the top of the hill there’s an old abandoned hotel and casino, built when the French colonised it was abandoned when the Khmer Rouge ruined the country. Now it’s a pretty cool empty shell that has the most amazing views over the sea and surrounding jungle. According to some bloke on tripadvisor people would jump off the cliff if their luck failed on the tables, but if they did well they would head over to the now abandoned church to thank God for their good luck.
In the last couple of years a super rich company has loaned the land on top of Bokor mountain and have built a massive Highland resort. It’s all very odd, they paid for the new road that winds through the mountain, have an enormous hotel resort and a huge entertainment complex attached but it’s completely in the middle of nowhere. We went to have a look inside, in the huge lobby there were about 6 restaurants and at least 50 staff milling about but not a single customer. We stopped and had a coffee whilst we tried to dry out and still we didn’t see a single guest. There was already 9 wings of accommodation out the back of the building and there’s plans to build even more! Someone has obviously got more money than sense.
The blue skies had returned as we headed down the mountain but we later learned this could be deceiving. Less than a minute after we spotted a huge grey cloud in the distance it was above us and hammering us with hailstone. Hail is even more painful when you’re travelling into it on a motorbike! The rest of the drive down was painfully slow, it sure can dump down some rain in Cambodia! By the time we got back we were in a full on thunderstorm, the roads and paths were flooded (good job we were in a tree), and the rain had managed to find a hole in our thatched roof soaking the bed (not a good job). Managed to bag ourselves a free upgrade to the deluxe bungalow though, every cloud eh.
The next morning was run day, we had a rather early start in an attempt to beat the heat, turns out you can’t, it was already in the 30’s at 6am! After a quick sandwich hunt round Kampot town and a coconut smoothie for energy we jumped the fence onto the old Bridge and set off on our way. As the road turned into a dusty dirt track and we got deeper into the countryside the villagers got more excited to see us. The kids would run out and say hello and the adults would wave and laugh amongst themselves, probably wondering why two sweaty white people were running down there road! The animals of Cambodia seem to be less fond of us than the adults though, Rob got chased by a calf down the road and every dog in Kampot seemed to have some issue with us! Some would just bark till we passed their house but others chased us down the street, definitely none as cute as Colin out here! We escaped the dogs and then headed out past the salt fields before heading home.
The rest of the day was spent lounging in hammocks by the river with an occasional break to eat or drink, it’s a hard life! We took a walk into town to get tea and found the most amazing Italian restaurant, actually it was just a tent at the side of the road with two brick walls to form a kitchen but somehow they concocted the best gnocchi I’ve ever had, bellisimo! We need to carb up anyway because tomorrow we head to spend the week at Sihanoukville fitness resort, time to get in shape before this next marathon!