Edit Blog Post
Published: February 23rd 2013
Woke up to a cloudy day in Kep but we could see the sea from our room and our breakfast was just what we wanted, muesli , fresh OJ fruit and pancakes. The hotel is owned by Australians and managed by young Khmer staff who are delightful . Sitting outside by the pool overlooking the ocean it didn't seem like we were in Cambodia, not sure where it felt like. We were picked up and driven past a huge crab which what Kep is all about to the pepper farm, not the hottest experience we have had. After learning about the 3 different types and buying some expensive peppercorns we hot footed it out of there to Takeo where we thought we were going on a leisurely cruise up the canal through the rice fields but ended up in a tacky speedboat being driven by our Stig lookalike Captain. We set off at such a pace and it was clear why he was wearing a helmet but we were at the front of the boat and where were ours???
This took about 45 minutes at speed carefully avoiding fishermen diving for crayfish and other canal users. We disembarked on a muddy
wharf and clambered up a hill to a pre-Angkor temple which dated back to the 7th century. We were met by the Holy man who claimed to be 63 but looked as if he were 163. Inside the Hindu temple was the linger, well there were about three, and bullet holes and some of the temple missing due to the fighting with the Khmer Rouge and the American bombings, this is close to the Vietnam border and the old capital of Cambodia Bokeri. There was also a cave where some of the killings took place as this was a quiet place. Another walk and we met some children who seemed pleased to see us, especially as our guide was giving out biscuits. We returned via the speedboat narrowly missing a flock of ducks to our lunch stop. It looked awful from the outside but the loos were clean, Asian in style ie two footprints on the floor. We ordered curried lobster and rice, it was freshwater lobster or crayfish as we would recognise it and it was delicious. They always have hammocks everywhere for people to lie in, Steve looks quite at home in one. We drove to the homestay
which was a farm of about three hectares, not sure what to expect. We were warmly welcomed and met other guests there, two young Americans and an older Australian. The place is run by two schoolteachers who started a free English class when a parent asked for tutoring of his daughter that Siphen-the schoolteacher calls Emily. The class has grown to about 24 children and we met them at 4.30 when they arrived for their lesson. The American couple were trying to teach a song by Mama Cass 'dream a little dream of me' after explaining the words she sang the song and of course we joined in and then the children also tried to. Quite difficult to read new words and remember a tune but somehow they managed and were all excited to do this. The group was then divided into 4 smaller groups and each child had to think of a question to ask us, that they also found challenging but with a bit of help they came up with some great questions the whole aim being to get a conversation going. Steve was getting on famously with his group and I thoroughly enjoyed the group I was
with. They all had great ideas about their futures which was uplifting. Ping pong is a game they really enjoy, thanks Lea! It ended with a game standing in a circle a rhyme was said and where it ended that person came up with a topic such as animals and everyone had to say the name of a different animal, great fun and much laughter, the hour and a half went too quickly and soon they were individually coming up to us and thanking us showing disappointment that we were not staying longer and we felt the same. This is such an amazing place to visit. We showered and changed and ate with everyone a delicious meal that Siphen had prepared. Chicken and pineapple curry, fish with a topping, aubergine and pork and rice! Our guide and driver joined us, the driver feeling unwell was a little reluctant to, but the atmosphere was fun and we shared lots of laughs, Steve can be funny when he puts his mind to it. March, Siphen's husband joined us later he had been to a local wedding. We even met Mum in law at one point who also seemed a relaxed and happy
person. The Cambodean way of life is 'chill out' it reminds us of the Caribbean and although they have little ( there is so much evidence of that) they don't spend their lives complaining, they laugh a lot and like to joke so Steve really fitted in well ( and so did I) Leaving the homestay we woke up around 6.30am
and decided to take a brief walk around the farm we were staying on. Quite extensive about 3 hectares that was mainly used for growing rice. Since this is the dry season all the rice has been harvested and skinny looking cows graze on the stalks that have been left. This is a very peaceful place, the people are warm and generous, even the mangy looking dogs are friendly. After breakfast we got collected by the dynamic duo Than and Wee. The usual insults are made to each other and we are on our way after saying farewell to our hosts. We left some goodies for them and the children including a table tennis set which Siphen said they would be delighted with. And in the UK only the latest Nintendo will do. Our destination today was Kampong Thom,
quite a long drive but with breaks along the way. First port of call was a small workshop where the locals including fairly young teenagers were crafting some fine silverware. Inevitably Pauline felt compelled to buy some jewellery but left the haggling to me. Next stop was a village which specialises in selling insects to eat, fortunately all dead. Pauline stayed in the car because Hui told her that spiders would be crawling over her, just winding her up. All sorts of delicious looking beasties including tarantulas, grasshoppers, cockroach and for dessert crunchy frog. All available with a yummy gluey coating and available on each traders website. Tempted to nosh a few but I had a big breakfast. Next stop was to a silk farm that was run by an war vet from the USA. Standard, old guy with a young Cambodian wife but at least he was employing around 20 local people. Fascinating to find out about silk production, we bought a scarf for 20dollars and I worked out it took at least 3 days to make it. Bargain. We arrived at the lodges at 4.00pm
and said our goodbyes to Wee and Than, what a great couple of guys, we
really enjoyed their company. We feel that in a short time we have got to know about Cambodia and we will miss these happy smiling people when we eventually leave. After a quick swim in the pool I decided to go for a bike ride, took the road along by the river and after 400 metres it turned into a dirt track with farm houses spread out on each side. Kids waved at me and yelled out hello, they are great fun with wonderful smiles and despite the relative poverty seem very happy in their community. There is a funeral taking place today and it is quite intrusive with chanting going on constantly however we have seen 6 weddings today such colourful affairs, they could make a film about this! We stayed at the hotel for our evening meal and it was delicious, the food is only very slightly spicy and the flavour really comes through, pan fried snake fish with mango salad followed by flambe banans with cinnamon and ice cream. At last the funeral is over and the chanting has stopped, the gecko's are still squeaking and the ducks making a weird noise but time for bed and
hopefully some sleep.
Tot: 2.319s; Tpl: 0.08s; cc: 14; qc: 57; dbt: 0.0635s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb