Kampot, Kep, and Sihanoukville. Day 8

Start of trip || < || >

For details of the places I visited in Kampot, Kep, and Sihanoukville, with GPS Coordinates, see my book Kampot, Kep and Sihanoukville.

I decided to go and see the waterfall that is a few km out of town. The hotel manager gave me some directions, and i also have directions from a blog post that i found online. So there is virtually 100% chance of me getting lost. 🙂

The road is nicely tarred, with no potholes, so i gun the motorcycle as much as the 125cc can go. Just as i was starting to enjoy myself. I come to a traffic jam. I open my visor, and hear shouting coming from the end of the line as i pass the vehicles on the shoulder of the road. I recon it must have been an accident and everyone is blaming everyone else. Wrong, there are blaming, but not an accident. I just ran into a protest.

Locals have been protesting for some time of being kicked off their lands by the government that sold the land to large cooperations. I stop near the front and take some pictures, as things start to heat up and tires start to burn. A local reporter comes up to me and explains what the protest is about and we talk a little. As things get more serious, i decide to leave. Not because i feel i am in danger that the locals will turn their anger to me, but more because i do not want to be there when the police show up. I have seen in newspapers how the police and locals negotiate, and i am in no mood for WWIII.

It has rained on and off for the past two days, and the grass on the side of the road is a mess. Not that it stops me, it just showers everyone behind me in mud as i slide the Honda motorcycle on its chassis through the mud with the back wheel in full swing. Mmm, maybe it is better i do not return until the protest has been cleared up and those with mud on their faces have cleaned up.

Driving on, i see the mile marker the blog post talked about, but no side road. I drive up and down for 10 minutes, looking for the side road that is 1km from the mile marker as given, even going as far as 5km down the road, but alas, nothing. Eventually i stop at a roadside restaurant, get a can of soda, and do what few men do. I ask for directions. Yes, sometimes i show my feminine side. It turns out who ever wrote the blog post had no idea of distance. The turn off is about 7km past the mile marker the blog post directions said. That’s why i love to give GPS coordinates in my books, so much easier.

Right, off i go again, and yes, around 7km later, i find the turn off. The road is just a dusty dirt road, so i stop at the first roadside shop i get to and let my feminine side come out again. Yes, i am on the right road. The view along the road is stunning, and I snap a few pictures. A few km later, I come to a ticket office and pay my dues for the privilege of seeing the waterfall. I take in the  scenery as I continue onwards.

Soon i come to a lone biker in the middle of the road, waving me down. The poor guy is so overloaded with stuff. He motions for me to go around him and look at  something. As i slowly pass him, i  realize his predicament. Some of the stuff had fallen off, and he is so overloaded that he cannot get down and pick it up again. I help him out for the price of a picture, and help him rearrange the items so that it does not fall off again. Thankful, the guy speeds off while i drive slow to enjoy the countryside.

Eventually i arrive at the start of the waterfall.  There are a number of restaurants that are starting to open up, and a small bridge that leads to the other side. As i snap a few pictures, i notice the biker i helped before, casually riding over the bridge with his delivery load. What a job.

There are actually a number of waterfall steps, with the first one nice, but not nearly as good as the last one.

I decide to head over the bridge to go and see the main waterfall. Just as I am happily walking on the narrow bridge, I hear hooting behind me. As I turn around, a local is zooming towards me on his scooter. With nowhere to go, I shuffle to the edge and suck my stomach in while the guy non fazed blasts past me.

There are a number of places you can sit or lie in a hammock, as well as a few Khmer restaurants.

Second waterfall. The path leads all along the river, and at times you have to negotiate wooden steps that are wet and slippery.

I follow the path down, and come to a large rock that is right by a waterfall. The rock is moss covered and soaking wet from the spray of the waterfall. I inch carefully forward with the grace of a Rhinoceros. For a split second i see two strange brown things in front of my eyes. By the time my brain registers its my shoes, my ass hits the rock and I slide towards the edge of the rock. With my iPad in one had (sealed in a lifeproof case) I desperately try and arrest my body’s motion of taking a bath. Right at the edge as my feet slip over the edge of the rock, i manage to grab a hold on a branch from a nearby tree. Hanging by one hand and half an bum, I carefully inch my butt a little back until i feel i can breathe again. With my feet dangling over the edge and me still hanging onto the branch, i decide it is the perfect opportunity to snap a closeup of the waterfall.

With my prize shot picture taken, I drag myself back onto the rock and then hands and knees make my way back to safety. After kissing the moss covered rock about four times as I lose my footing, I manage to make it back to the path. I take a big breath and compose the little dignity I still have as a few locals kill themselves in laughter. They are seated at a rest area next to the rock and watched the whole affair. Unfazed, i proudly walk past them, just to lose my footing on a slippery wooden step. Luckily the railing saved me from totally coming crashing down and i hang with one hand onto the railing. However, the locals laugh so hard, they almost roll off their platform. Please let there be no YouTube video of this.

I continue my way down, and eventually come to the path that leads to the main waterfall. The main path to the waterfall is full of people, so i decide to go over a small log bridge and around to the other side. Just trying to avoid the confused looks people give me at my stylish moss covered clothes, they are not up to the latest fashion. Unfortunately, I cannot get a clear picture from that side, and I am forced to go back and pass all the snickering people as I make my way to the main waterfall.

I hope you enjoy this picture, as i bruised my ego and ass getting it. 🙂

From the waterfall i head back to my hotel, and draw a snicker from the manager as i walk pass. I give him a look, and then we both burst out laughing. He asks what happened and as i tell him the tale. Poor dude almost falls of his chair. I am so glad i can brighten up his day. I go and take a quick shower, and change my clothes, then head out for a late lunch. Riding around town, i suddenly stop. HOLY COW, can it be? Yes, it is. I just had to go and take a look at the restaurant.

Very nice sandwiches and a nice garden. Cool place to have lunch. After lunch, i decide to check the town out a bit, and then suddenly, heaven is in front of me. I am saved.

From heaven, i decide to go an check out a secluded beach i saw yesterday. The beach is by a number of bungalows that are in the water right at the beach. One day, i am going to come and stay here for a night or two.

I turn to my right and snap a few pictures of the ocean and the beach. As I take the pictures I look at the iPad’s screen, and only when I lower it do I realize there are two people on the beach. Then one gets half up and I am like,  mmmm, nice boobs. The two hit the dirt and scramble for their clothes while I walk away laughing. Stupid tourists, thinking it is a secluded beach. Mind you, every now and again people get caught posing naked at Angkor Wat or some other temple. I do not know what it is about foreigners wanting to pose naked at a temple and then posting the pictures online. What I can tell you is that in almost all cases the people were found and arrested within a day, and then deported with a never come back farewell kick in the ass.

Being a bit late, i decide to head to one of the more popular beaches and have an early dinner. I managed to find  a more upscale restaurant between the Khmer local ones, and they have chicken cordon blue on the menu. Nice to have something different than rice and veggies for a change. 🙂

Well, sadly tomorrow I will be heading home (Siem Reap). I did go and see some dive operators, but i have no inclination to drive a few hours to some island, spend $100 or so on two dives, that are around 40ft deep and mostly sand. Cayman, you spoiled me. 🙂

Kampot, Kep, and Sihanoukville. Day 7

Start of trip || < || >

For details of the places I visited in Kampot, Kep, and Sihanoukville, with GPS Coordinates, see my book Kampot, Kep and Sihanoukville.

Got up early this morning to catch my minibus to Sihanoukville. The hotel has a 24 hour reception desk, but when I got downstairs, there was no one at the desk. I decided to walk outside, and it is then that I saw the hotel manager. On the front porch of the hotel was a small bed, where I had often seen the hotel manager and his wife eat lunch. I had thought it to be just a place for them to eat outside. Now I saw the real reason for the bed. The hotel manager was fast asleep outside, alone. The 24 hour service is you, waking him up when you arrive at the hotel. I left him alone and watched the sun rise over Kampot for the last time on this visit.

The manager woke up as the first rays of light gently touched him and we started a conversation. The hotel used to only have local guest, but was doing badly. He had just put the hotel on bookings.com, and we were basically his first non Cambodian guests. He asked me for some advice, and I helped him out a bit about what foreigners would let slide and what not. Such as toilet paper, that is not a standard thing in Cambodian homes, but is immediately missed by a foreigner.

After a while, I got a bit worried as my taxi had not arrived yet. I have done many trips around South East Asia, and know they are often 10 to 15 minutes late, but this was now about 25 minutes. The manager called and as normal was assured they are on their way. A few minutes later, a guy on a scooter raced into the hotel parking lot. He was there to pick me up. Jup, they had forgotten about me and had sent whoever they could grab to go pick me up. Luckily I had known better when I started the trip and only packed a 55L backpack, else we would have had a problem fitting on the scooter if I had a large Bag or suitcase.

My left hand was sore from hurting it after riding with the kid that guided me a few days ago. I had held onto the grab handles on the backseat, and managed to twist my wrist as we went though a pothole he had missed. So now I was only holding onto the grab handle with one hand, while this lunatic zipped though traffic to try and catch my bus. If I had a larger or heavier backpack, they weight would have ripped me off the backseat as the driver swerved between cars and around frightened pedestrians.

Eventually we made it to the minibus, having had a few close calls. I am sure there are a number of people back there than need new underwear, and if this was my first lift on a motorbike, i would have needed a change as well.

The minibus was surprisingly reasonably new, and the air conditioner worked. The trip to Sihanoukville is not long, as the road to there is very good and it being only around 117km. We stopped once for a wee break and some snacks. If ever you are on a tour in South East Asia, and they stop at a place to eat, you can almost bet the place next door is about half price. In this case, there was a small market next door. The place we stopped at asked $1 for a small bunch of bananas, where i got the same bunch in the market for 25c (1000 Riel). After a 15 minute rest, we were on the road again. To my surprise, we passed a tollgate. This is one of very few operational in Cambodia.

 tollroad on way to sihanoukvilleToll road on the way to Sihanoukville from Kampot.

After some distance, we passed by Sihanoukville airport. As far as i know, there are no international flights to the airport, only local flights.

Sihanoukville airportSihanoukville airport from the main road passing it.

Eventually we arrived in Sihanoukville. And as standard, we are not dropped off at the bus station (which is close to my hotel), but at the tourist spots where eager tuk tuks and taxies await us.

serenity road, sihanoukvilleSerenity road, Sihanoukville

In Sihanoukville, tuk tuks have started a price fixing mafia, and it is difficult to find a cheap tuk tuk. I am offered a ride for $8 for the short 5 minute ride to my hotel. I look over my shoulder and see a lion statue with some well, big balls.

Golden Statue, SihanoukvilleGolden Lion Statue

 I wave the tuk tuk away and get the “you will not find a better deal” standard ploy. I walk about 20 meters up backpacker road (real name is Serenity road), and find a shop renting motorcycles. They charge $5 a day, but i negotiate them down to $4 a day if I take the motorcycle for two days. However, i then bargain with them to return the motorcycle on the third day, before midday, as it was about midday at the time. They agreed. So i got a motorcycle for almost 3 days, for $8.

motorcycle rental in SihanoukvilleThe red Honda scooter on the left is the one I chose.

After renting a motorcycle, I walked across the road for a bite to eat. I got myself a cup of coffee that comes with a piece of bread. Mm, well that piece of bread may fill me up.

coffee and bread in sihanoukville

I head to my hotel, and find it to be right by the port. The hotel add said it has a view of the ocean. Mmm, yes I think I see the ocean in the back there.

Sihanoukville portSihanoukville port

hotel room sihanoukvilleAt least the room was nice and had hot water and air conditioning.

 I decide to go and drive around and have a look at some of the beaches.

The first beach was a bit too crowded for me, so i continued on.

beach in sihanoukville

I thought of taking a boat out, but could not find the captain.

boat anchored on beach in sihanoukville

Then I came to a very nice beach and stayed a while.

soko beach

After some relaxing time on the beach, I decided to return to the coffee shop as i noted they had cheap pizza. When i got there, the first think that struck me about the menu was, that it warned you that Sihanoukville is dangerous. And that women must not carry handbags, as snatch and run theft is high in Sihnaoukville, especially near Serendipity beach. Women had been dragged over the tarred road behind a escaping thief on a motorbike, until the handbag strap broke or she let go from the pain.

police hotline sihanoukville

I ordered a small pizza, and when it came, I was shocked. The waiter assured me that it was indeed a small pizza. The thing was so big, I took the leftovers home for breakfast. After the massive meal, i walked a bit down the road to the beach, and was passed by a guide pushing a trolly full of salted and spiced snails. They are all over Cambodia, and if you love snails, this is for you. Personally, I do not care how much you spice it, it is still like swallowing a ball of mucus.

snail cart cambodia

On the way home, I took a side road and managed to get some nice twisties and had some fun. I also passed a small but stunning lake.

 

lake in sihanoukville

lake in sihanoukville

Tomorrow I will go and have a look at some more beaches, a local waterfall, and see what else i can find in town.