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2014 MAR CAMBODIA- COAST FROM KEP TO KAMPOT TO OTRES BEACH.

A quick overnight in Kampot on the way to Sihnoukville for some beach time.

TUESDAY 18TH MARCH 2014 (DAY 199)

We rode the hire bikes down to the waterfront for another delish breaky at the Crab Kitchen. I think half the staff were still sleeping in bed (they live on the premises) when we rocked up at 9am.

Bellies full we rode back to the hotel where the bikes were collected around 10.30. We checked out of hotel and they phoned us a tuk tuk at 11.30am to take us to the bus station. The bus was on time arriving at 12 noon. Luggage stored underneath we were on our way by 5 past.

Kep to Kampot is only 25km and the bus took just under 30 minutes to travel the distance. This must be the shortest leg we have traveled in our journeys so far. But we wanted to do just one overnight in Kampot to have a quick look around before we head back to the beach.

It was immediately noticeably hotter in Kampot than it was in Kep. As soon as we were off the air con bus we felt instantly exhausted and we had done nil. Tuk tuk drivers were there to hassle us and one lucky guy was chosen to take us to a hotel of his choice. The first one we were taken to was too expensive and he was quick to drive us around the corner to a more reasonable place. Rooms here were US$15 for fan, US$17 for air con. As it was hot and humid here we splurged out and paid the extra 2 bucks per room to have the air con. Wow extravagant are we not? Unfortunately for us the only hotel in town with a pool was actually outside the town and as we were only here for one night we did not want to have to travel into the centre.

There was a small supermarket type shop in the lobby of the hotel that was selling cold drinks so we bought a few and sat in the door way trying to cool off. It was too hot to go out exploring at this time of day so after our few cold bevvies we can in our rooms in the air con for a little watching TV.

Just after 4pm we braved the outside, Lyn, Robyn and I hiring bikes from the hotel for US$1 and doing a quick lap of the town. Not a great deal to see, we rode up along the river to the new bridge, crossed it then rode back along the other side, returning over the old bridge. Continuing along the river, stopped for a quick shop, continued riding until we came across a supermarket where we stopped again this time for an ice cream break. Hard going this push bike caper!! So now it was getting a little dark so time to return to the hotel and think about going to dinner.

Some one at some time had advised us to go to a rib joint if we made it to Kampot. I had looked it up on the internet and it looked too good to be true. Amazing reviews and the pictures were enough to entice us into having ribs for dinner. Dolly had gone earlier in the day and booked us a table, good thing as the place was crowded. It was 7pm and a lot cooler than the day, with a nice breeze blowing into the restaurant.

Unfortunately, the over bragged about ribs were somewhat a disappointment. Plenty of meat, but again we should not compare western meals to what we would expect to get at home. All that said it was an ok meal and at a cost of US$4 each we could hardly complain. Dessert seemed like a good idea afterwards and we walked a short distance up the street to find a place that had some kind of apple tart/cake thing served with purple ice cream for US$2 which hit the spot.

Again, bellies full we returned to our rooms to watch a bit of TV in the air con which really did not work up to standard but was better than the outside temp.
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WEDNESDAY 19TH MARCH 2014 (DAY 200) WOO HOO DAY 7 MONTHS FOR LYN AND ME

After walking around the block to find a place for breakfast we finally settled on a place up the next corner from our hotel. Different kind of shakes on offer here and I had a bacon and cheese toasty which looked like a baguette with bacon and cheese than had either been forced into a sandwich toaster flattening it or laid out on the hot bitumen and run over by a steam roller. Either way, the taste was good so that's the main thing.

Today we head further along the coast. Not much to see here in Kampot and it's so hot so we want to move on and get near the sea and cooler weather. After pricing the minivan from Kampot to Sihanoukville we discovered it was going to cost us US$5 each and then about US$10 to get out to Otres Beach where we want to stay. Sihanoukville is 100km away, travel time of about 2 hours. Our other option was to hire a private taxi which would cost us US$35 door to door, picking us up from our hotel door in Kampot and delivering us direct to Otres beach. For just a couple of extra dollars this was the winning option for us.

A battered old Camry and an Englishless driver collected us outside our hotel at 11am and after an exciting drive (all drives in Cambodia are exciting) we were deposited outside an Otres Beach side restaurant just 15 minutes after 12 noon. The driver was pretty good, spent most of the time with his hand on the car horn warning everybody and roadside animal that we were approaching from behind and were going to overtake them no matter what was coming in the opposite direction. I was in the front seat and funny how this kind of driving no longer scares me. Think I have survived too many of these erratic driving experiences to know any better now.

As soon as we aligned from the car the beach sharks started attacking us. Come inside here, you want bungalow, drink, food. Once seated and drinks to cool off ordered, the lady beach sharks started their attack - you want massage, manicure, threading?? What's your name?? You remember me lady to do you. Arg... all we wanted was a little peace to have our drinks, but it's hard not to be rude to these women. I know they are just trying to make a living but sometimes you don't want them in your face as soon as you hit the beach. I'm not sure which is the most rude reaction to ignore them or tell them to fuck off, both are ineffective as they smile and say you remember me I come back later.

After what might have been the best coconut shake of the trip Dolly and I set off to look at a couple of bungalows. We viewed a couple and all seem to be offering the same facilities: bed, toilet, shower and fan, at an assortment of prices ranging from US$15 to US$35. Wow prices sure have skyrocketed here in 5 years, but it's also obvious the whole area has progressed and there are now lots more bungalow accommodations available. We picked a place that seemed to us to be the best of what we had viewed and returned to the others to report back. A quick check on the internet and our chosen hotel had many reviews relating to rats that share the room with you. Yes rats as in the rodent variety, now these fellows are not only revolting, but the little bastards don't pay their way either. So we scratched that place and decided to have lunch and then have another look around.

Out again this time on motor bike we had hired for the next 3 days we were able to venture a little further down the beach and again found a reasonable place. The price was a little more at US$20 per room but it claims to be air-conditioned. We will see how good that is after the first night. Also this new place was down the end of the beach and away from the main cluster of bars and restaurants which may be a little too noisy for us old chooks.

It only took 2 trips on the bikes to ferry our luggage and passengers to our home for the next few days and again we were settled in within minutes.

The beach is just across the dirt track, about 1 minute walk and we are in the sea. A 4pm swim in the warmest waters we have had so far and we sat watching the sun trying to set passing through the fast moving clouds. Here also we do not see the sun sink into the ocean, as it disappears before it hits the water. But there is a nice breeze and we return to our room for a hot shower (some other places only offered cold showers) and the room does seem cooler so the air con must be doing a little something.

As we'd had a late lunch, we also had a late dinner and it was after 8pm when we ventured out to find a place to eat. All the beach restaurants looked pretty quiet and we ended up eating at the place that had the rats at their accommodation. The rooms and the kitchen were far enough apart for us to feel save they would not be serving up something that may have slipped into the pot.

I had a mystery dish called bon bon chicken with sesame souse - a mystery because when I ordered it as the waiter did not have enough English to tell me what it was exactly it was a mystery. Yes there was chicken loaded up on a bed of sliced cucumber with a sweet sticky sauce on top. Taste was more than satisfactory. Robyn's fish amok was a bit of a let down, this dish which is a typical Khmer dish has been served up to us in numerous different ways. Sort of same, same but different. Lyn's vegie curry was good and spicy and Dolly's mushroom soup (she has a bit of a tummy today) was full of mushrooms. We had a quiet one today - not a cocktail in sight!!
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THURSDAY 20TH MARCH 2014 (DAY 201)

Breakfast at the hotel them morning, we had baguette with bacon. A little shy on the bacon but the baguette was pretty good as half was had with vegemite. Mango shake was ok too.

Off we set on our hire bikes. I seem to be coping very well being a driver this time round as Lyn doubles Robyn and I double with Dolly on the back. I must admit I still prefer to be a pillion to driver but as the other 2 ladies don't ride at all I had to brave it. It's been a couple of times now and all seems to be going well, we have not fallen off or had any near misses with traffic so all good. Having a motor bike sure gives you the freedom of going where ever we want without having to pay for a taxi or tuk tuk.

This morning we headed along the coast to check out some of the other beaches. Seems the accommodation that we stayed in last time was now gone. There is a lot of construction going on in this area, mostly of expensive looking hotels as the cheaper guesthouses get demolished. Our first stop was at Ochheuteal Beach were we stopped and had a swim. We all agreed that the water did not seem to be as nice here as it was at our Otres Beach. It was still pretty clear, but there was a lot more sea trash (weed) in the water and also a bit of human trash (rubbish) floating around also. However, it was good enough to cool us off as it was already a hot day.

Rode on towards Sokha Beach which does have a very small public area but most of the beach seems to be claimed by a huge resort that is right on the beach. We rode on.
Next stop was at the beautiful Independence Beach - a cold drink and a swim were needed. Here the water was absolutely amazing, crystal clear and warm as a bath. We had an enjoyable swim and a cool drink, and a lounge in their comfy papa-son chairs. I even had a quick 40 winks.

Time to continue on we were looking for a fishing village that Lyn & I rode to last time we were here on a bike. Passing Victory Beach at Victory Hill and it's many casinos, led us to Sihanoukville Port.
Here the fork in the road offered a choice of heading to Phnom Penh or back into Sihanoukville town or back the way we came. Must have missed the turn off, so we headed back the way we came and back to Independence Beach for lunch.

After we had ordered and received our food we were very glad of this decision as the food was fabulous. Not exactly Cambodian - but after seeing mashed potatoes on the menu and on a meal that was being delivered past us we all licked our lips at the thought of them. I ordered schnitzel with mash and salad, Lyn meatballs and mash, Robyn cordon bleu with mash, and Dolly ordered just a plate of mashed potatoes with gravy - much to the amusement of the waiter. All our meals tasted delicious and we were chock a block after eating and needed time to let in settle in our stomachs. A little rest and then it was time for a swim and a lie in the sun before we rode back to Sihanoukville town.

Went looking for a optic shop so Dolly could get the screw on her glasses fixed. Opposite the glasses shop was a large supermarket that we had a stroll around. Found cheese, ham, tomato and sliced bread and thought after such a large meal at lunch, toasted sandwich might be nice for dinner. Yes I am still carrying around the toaster and times like this makes it worth while.

Half an hour later just after 6pm as the sun was sinking we were back at our hotel and ready for a couple of cocktails to see out the day. Unfortunately, cocktails were off as they had no ingredients - bummer. We all took showers instead as all too lazy to go looking elsewhere for happy hour.

We did finally venture out just before 7pm but not many of the bars were doing happy hour that late anymore. The best we could find was a place that gave us 50c off $3 cocktails so we took a seat and ordered. I had a Black Russian and the others tried the Pina Coladas. Both were a little disappointing and not worth the US$2.50 each we paid for them.

Only had one drink then strolled back to our hotel to make toasted sandwiches for dinner. Pulling out the toaster from my pack I discovered it had been broken, must have been when my pack was rammed into the bus at some time. Bugger, it still worked ok with a bit of coaxing, but I think this will be the toasters resting place as don't need to be carrying around half broken electrical equipment. Dinner was just fine and all that was needed as we were still digesting the huge meal we had at lunchtime.
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Posted by Cindy Bruin 21:28 Archived in Cambodia

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