When we eventually made our way on from Siem Reap, we decided our next destination would be the coast of Cambodia. For us that meant getting our first ever overnight bus to Phnom Penh and then onward to our first stop at Kampot.
The overnight journey was interesting. Instead of chairs it was all slightly smaller than double bunk beds on one side and single bunk beds on the other. We had chosen a bottom bunk and apart from being quite awkward to actually get into it was quite comfortable once settled, although I could imagine it being really awkward if you were travelling as a lone traveller and ended up in one of the doubles next to someone you didn’t know.
We splashed out slightly and got the bus with Giant Ibis seeing as it had air conditioning. We were also provided with water and a snack when we boarded the bus. I don’t remember much of the actual journey as I was pretty much out like a light as soon as we set off. I found this much more comfortable and easy to sleep on than the overnight trains we went on during this trip.
The one thing that slightly put me off this journey was the fact that we arrived early in Phnom Penh and no one really woke us up. It was luck really that my husband happened to wake up because people had started to move around and shook me awake. By this point people were already disembarking and we were in a rush to make sure we had everything and get off the bus. Luckily we hadn’t really taken much out of our bags, but one of the other passengers had left her Ipad on the bus and had to pay a tuk-tuk to drive her to the bus depot to get it back. I can see how that happened given the rush to get off the bus.
After the rush we then had to wait at the station, originally it had been for two hours having got the last bus from Siem Reap and the first from Phnom Penh, but seeing as we arrived early we had a bit longer to wait. All the while having tuk-tuk drivers asking where we were going to try and get business from us. The rest of the journey was fairly uneventful and we arrived in Kampot just in time for lunch.
Our check in time wasn’t until 3pm so we decided to buy some lunch in town, we also knew that getting a tuk-tuk from the bus station would have been a lot more expensive than anywhere else, so we went off on foot in search of a restaurant. This did not stop one particularly persistent tuk-tuk driver from following us for a few blocks asking where we were going. We found a nice little cafe just before the rain started coming down.
After our lunch we made our way to our hostel. It was called High Tide which I had naively not thought anything about until we got there. We were both very tired from our night bus and slept most of the afternoon. When you think you are saving time by taking night transportation, you generally end up wiped out the next day so it generally doesn’t pay off.
High Tide was an interesting place. The communal areas were really nice, if slightly full of stoners and the atmosphere was the most chilled and inviting of any of the places I would say that we stayed during our entire trip (probably because of the aforementioned stoners); but the rooms themselves were a bit lacking. We had actually been upgraded from a dorm room to a twin. Each room was a wooden hut on stilts in the river with a grass roof which sounds idyllic but perhaps due to the nature of the building the room was dark, everything was damp and it wasn’t terribly clean. We had an outside shower at the back which had cold water and holey mosquito nets on the bed. Although there was a light and a fan there was no air conditioning, but the place was very cheap and as I said earlier the communal area and general atmosphere were lovely so we basically just didn’t spend much time in the rooms.
The communal area was basically a large wooden platform over the river with loads of hammocks, bean bags and sofas as well as a bar. I spent a lot of time blogging there although unable to upload at the time and watching the river go by. The owner had several rescue dogs, cats and even a pig meaning that we had the slightly odd bar tender on occasion.
We got chatting to the owner on the night we arrived and he mentioned that he had a couple of kayaks and was willing to rent them out for a very reasonably price, he even recommended a few ideas of where to take them including a hidden temple that was only accessible by the water. The next day we set off in the kayaks with some vague directions on how to get to the temple.
We set of at a bit of a silly time of the day as we ended up going in both directions against the tide of this tidal river, but it was nice to get out on the water and the landscape was beautiful. Everyone we talked to described the landscape as mangroves, but it wasn’t really very similar to the mangroves I had experienced previously in Thailand, possibly because the tide was so high or possibly because it was such a wide river. Anyway we took off in the general direction that we had been pointed and enjoyed the scenery.
Eventually we came to a turning in the river where we had been instructed to turn right, we did so and continued on. We were starting to lose hope of finding the temple when it appeared.
We found a little jetty with what looked like a monks robe hanging to dry on it. I wasn’t entirely sure we were meant to be there but my husband thought we should go and explore it.
So we abandoned the boats and went off to explore the temple. It was the strangest thing as the place seemed entirely deserted. We only met with dogs and cows, no people anywhere. It was slightly haunting but very beautiful and everywhere we saw signs that it hadn’t been entirely abandoned.
We headed back to our boats, deciding that the weather looked like it was about to turn and that we didn’t want to be caught out in the rain.
Unfortunately just as we were getting close to the hostel the heavens opened and we got absolutely soaked.
We got back to the hostel and changed into some dry clothes and just enjoyed being in the shelter while we could hear the rain coming down on the grass roof as well as the river and surrounding jungle.
That evening we decided to go into Kampot town to book a climbing experience which I plan to write about in another blog and get some dinner. Getting out from High Tide was a bit of an experience as the rain had made massive puddles in the mud track, we actually ended up getting out to push several times.
We were prepared with a recommendation from the hostel and made our way to The Cider Shack. We were both missing some tastes from home by this point and a burger and cider seemed like a good idea, especially as Cambodian food while delicious doesn’t seem to have a lot of variety.
When we met with the owner of the cider shack we could tell immediately he was a character. He told us he had the worst burgers in Kampot, simply because the laundry shop down the road from him claimed to have the best burgers in Kampot and he still seemed to win a lot of business compared to them. He also brewed his own cider and being that he was from the West Country in England that was most welcome. I am not a fan of beer, as I think I have mentioned multiple times on this blog and having alcoholic beverage I enjoyed made a nice change. Perhaps too nice a change as I drank a bit much as we chatted to the owner and several interesting patrons of the bar.
That being said I am not entirely sure how we managed to get back as the tuk-tuk we used basically refused to drive back down the muddy track we had had so much difficulty with on the way out and made us walk for that section, but we made it in the end.
We had a lot of fun in our little visit to Kampot, I think a large part of that was the people we met out there, but it also gave us a bit of a break from having a plan and a refresh before heading on with our travels.