Kampot allowed me 4 nights of more a relaxed stay. It's a quitter town on a beautiful bay situated close to Mt. Bokor and Kep (the beach/ famous crab market). The Mad Monkey was a great hostel choice as I made a lot of great friends here. They were mostly American friends too which was a change. I used the pool as an excuse to relax and even dedicated one full day to it.
The Mad Monkey Hostel.
My dorm room. Would have been $9 a night but I traded work for the room for 4 nights.
I loved the artwork in this hostel!
Kampot and Kep are 2 areas very close to eachother and also very famous for their pepper. Corn pepper. After trying it I was highly considering buying some for myself and others. That would have meant hauling around added weight in my bag and it was pepper. I really just had a hard time justifying buying pepper and hauling it home. But it was soooo good! It would have been worth it.
A simple breakfast from the Mad Monkey. The fresh ground Kampot black pepper MADE the dish!
Bags of Kampot pepper for sale at a local store. Around $4 to $9 a bag.
It seems to be becoming a thing at hostels for me to lead group exercise sessions. Some one finds out I'm doing a workout, asks to join in and before I know it I have several people working out with me. True again for The Mad Monkey but I only had one dedicated individual. Well the service staff too but I'd show them workouts to do while they were working.
Camilla was from South America and working at Mad Monkey in trade for room and food for a few weeks. She bugged me for some nutrition guidance. We had a few workouts and I jotted down more exercises that she could do on her own.
We started our workouts here, just down the road from the hostel. Then we'd finish up in the hostel pool swimming a few laps.
One day a small group of us did a 24hr motorbike rental so we could go to Kep and Mt. Bokor. We ride to Kep on the first day, leaving around 12pm from The Mad Monkey.
Olivia, a girl inner at my hostel who oddly enough is from Portland, Oregon
We stopped for gas on the way to Kep because motor bikes are ALWAYS rented to you with an empty tank! If you return the bike with fuel in it they will siphon it out and put the fuel in their own personal bikes!
At this particular gas station we went to, they gave us treats for buying gas. It didn't matter how much we purchased. It reminded me of how the gas stations in Oregon have treats for your dog, if the dog is in the car with you!
We arrived to Kep and pulled right into the crab market area. One of our biker gang members was looking forward to a fresh crab lunch!
Eric, negotiating over size and price with the crab ladies.
The crab market, selling more than just crab.
This little guys was found in the only breezy spot in the market. It was a very warm afternoon.
The welcome to Kep sign.
We spent the rest of our day in Kep hanging out in hammocks near the beach, talking, napping, eating, and just enjoying the day.
The sunset in Kanpot, over the bay after we returned from Kep.
That evening (in the pool back at the hostel) I had a very Portland Oregon experience. Birds were flooding the sky at dusk and they were easily being mistaken for bats! There was a big conversation over rather if they were bats or birds. They reminded me of the swifts that fly thru Portland every fall and nest in tall chimney stacks.
Swifts in the sky?
Mt. Bokor is worth a trip if you ever find yourself in this area. I hesitated on going, thinking maybe I'd skip it if something better was out there. So glad I didn't skip it, especially with the group of motorbike riders I was out with! We even picked up 2 extras along the ride there. An Australian guy and a French girl who were staying at a different hostel in Kampot. They saw our little gang and assumed we were headed to the mountain as well so they just jumped in with us.
The Australian guy we picked up.
The French girl we picked up.
Selfies on a motorbike aren't encouraged but sometimes there's just no other way to capture the moment while in SE
Sasha (Boston), myself, Olivia (Portland). The 3 American blondes who met in the same hostel in Cambodia. On the side of Mt. Bokor in this photo.
The ride up the mountain had a nice breeze which was a great way to cut the humidity of the day.
We passed this new and very awful painted casino at the top of the mountain. It wasn't at all what I had expected to see but neither was the...
abandoned church or the...
The casino was really beautiful inside for being so bare bones. The concrete architecture was stunning and the view out back was like we were floating above the clouds! It was a unique building to explore with many great photo opportunities. When it was mentioned to me that the Khmer Rouge used the building as one of their headquarters I became a little uneasy being inside. The beauty of the building and having great travel friends with me pushed me to move on and continue the exploration.
Detailed shot of the front.
Inside on the main level.
Main level of the casino.
Out back, once the clouds rolled past.
It was definitely lunch time by the time we were done with the mountain adventure and time to return the bikes. So we headed down the mountain as the local Cambodian racing team raced upwards! These guys were insane with their full racing gear on, flashy bikes complete with flashing lights and driving like idiots! One guy was in my lane coming right at me as I turned another corner heading down. I kept my cool knowing he's move out of my way if he didn't want to wreck.
Thankfully I was right and he moved.
We all experienced a little bit of their craziness and when we reached the petrol station at the bottom of the mountain we found more of these racer guys.
We cruised back to Kampot, returned the bikes and walked to the
Epic Arts Cafe.
Epic Arts Cafe.
The epic BLT made with fresh Kampot pepper bread.
The last day in Kampot I ate here for breakfast and then went back and split this "epic" lunch with Sasha.
Banana coconut pancakes with a cane sugar syrup, a caramelized onion and spinach quiche, and corn fritters.
My biggest regret is that I didn't visit this place on my first day in Kampot. If I had eaten here sooner I would have graced the cafe with presence everyday. Lesson learned. When I hear of a good cafe I'll try it out right away!
The 2 backpackers we picked up on our trip to the mountain were interested in a fresh pulled noodle place I had mentioned to them. I pointed it out to them as we passed it. They stopped and I later heard they even went back there for dinner. Yes! It was that good! But so was Epic Arts Cafe.
The noodle place. I'm not sure if it even has a name.
My last day in Kampot was busy! My bus was picking me up at 1pm and Sasha and Ellen (two of the girls I had made friends with) were catching the same bus.
We had a trip back to Phnon Penh where we'd wait 5 hours before catching the night bus to Siem Reap.
I met up with Camella, from the hostel just before I left to give her a nutrition and fitness plan to follow. One of the owners of the hostel got involved with our talk and it quickly turned to both of them begging me to stay! When Greg (the owner we were talking with) found out I was an artist he wanted me to stay to paint a few walls in the place. I told him I'd come back.
A beautifully colored street in town.
They knew I was a travel blogger and while I was there I told them I would do a write up on the good they were doing. That's the cause of the last posting you read. It wasn't just because of my agreement with them though. I do fully respect what they are doing and was happy to give them credit for it.
Olivia walking along the bay.
Until next time Kampot!