I think Kampot might be my favourite place in Cambodia.
I'm not entirely sure what it is about this place, but I like it. A lot.
I stayed at the Magic Sponge Guesthouse, which is close to downtown. The staff is really nice and you can rent motorbikes there for $5 a day. The Alaskan co-owner also draws very helpful maps ;)
Bonus: there's a pool table AND miniputt. BOOYAH.
Bokor Mountain National Park
I rented a scooter and biked to Bokor mountain with a few people. It was a super gorgeous drive - the road winds up the side of the mountain, which gives you great viewpoints of Kampot, the nearby village of Kep and the ocean. It also gave me some time to practice my turning on a bike ;)
There is a huge Buddha statue. Slightly random, but an interesting modern take on a Buddha statue.
Most people make the trek to see the old ruins of the French colonial hotel at the top of the mountain.
It has recently been covered in plaster so that people can still walk around it, but it is seriously eerie to walk around with the clouds swirling about.
There are more ruins...if you can call them that - maybe just old buildings? It feels almost wrong calling buildings from the 1900s 'ruins' in a country with some of the most epic ruins in the world *ahem* Angkor Wat.
Anywho, there are more mysterious buildings down the road, as well as an old church.
All of these buildings were built on the precipice of a huge drop down the sea level, where you can supposedly see all the way to Vietnam on a clear day.
It wasn't clear when we were there ;)
We checked out the waterfall as well, but it was all dried up (and quite smelly). We also missed lunch at the nearby restaurant, so we made due with some instant noodles at some stalls near the tourist information centre.
There are big plans to develop the top of the mountain, and there is already a monstrously huge hotel and casino. It seems strange to build not one but TWO golf courses in a national park, but maybe that's just me...
I think another contributing factor to my love for Kampot is the amazing food here.
Kampot is known for it's world-class pepper, with many pepper farms around the area. People have actually told me to come here solely to buy the pepper. For serious.
We went to the Rusty Keyhole 1 (as opposed to the Rusty Keyhole 2) for ribs on our first night here.
This is where you might think to yourself 'Anna, I thought you were a vegetarian in Canada?' Ya, I am. I've decided to embrace meat while travelling, however, since I find that the cuisine is such a huge part of any cultural experience and it's usually very difficult to translate 'I don't eat meat' or find healthy vegetarian options here. Fried rice with barely a handful of veggies three times a day? Def not the healthiest way to go. I digress.
These ribs have been called the best ribs in Asia, and I think I have to agree. It was fall-off-the-bone deliciousness, with the craziest sauce of all time.
The good at our hotel was also fabulous, with ridiculously large portions. We caught on fast and split meals - I don't know how it is humanly possible to finish a meal to yourself.
I have been a bit frivolous with my spending on meals recently, so I went to the night market for dinner one night.
It was constructed only recently, but there are fair rides in the middle of it.
I had a delicious noodle soup while the power flickered on and off. It had been a while since I had enjoyed a good bowl of soup, makes me excited for my upcoming travels in Vietnam(!).
One night, while we were sitting by the water drinking a cheap bottle of wine an watching the sunset, a tuktuk driver came up and started chatting with us. He invited us to go have 'palm juice' with him and his friends. He brought us to this little house in the middle of nowhere, where there were local people hanging out on reed mats on the ground drinking and eating. Turns out it was palm wine but it's strangely delicious in a fermented kind of way.
Overall, Kampot is a great place to enjoy some good food by the river side, rent a motorbike and explore the nearby sights, and just relax into the vibe of the town.
Check out the book store if you're in the area, amazing selection AND they do book exchanges, bonus!