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Published: January 21st 2018
Leaving our hotel at 6am we are greeted by Sock, he will be taking us to the railway station, our last journey with him. We have booked seats on the newly reinstated train service between PhNom Penh and Sihanoukville, which stops at Kampot, today's destination.
For more than fourteen years there were no trains at all in Cambodia, so we are looking forward to this trip. The carriages are refurbished 1950s stock, (think UK train services for us children of the 1950/60s) with limited seats costing USD6pp and if you are lucky and book in advance, your car can travel with you, for the same price strapped onto the rear freight truck. It is not a fast service, taking over five hours, but as we leave the city behind, scruffy heavily polluted scrubland and ghetto style livng is replaced with rich paddy fields, grazing Asian cattle, thousands of fluffy white and brown ducks, traditional villages of bamboo and woven rooves, very easy on the eye, and a far cry from the city we left behind.
Taking a tuk tuk to our hotel, first impressions of Kampot, not great. Sky is heavy and grey, streets running with mud after a
serious amount of rain, so spirits lifted slightly upon arrival at our hotel, a restored barn, nice vibes, Mexican music in background and many cheerful Australians enjoying lunch, and a fair smattering of French too. As we are early for check in and room not ready, lunch seems a good idea. Service here is top notch and nearly as many staff as guests. Whilst waiting, the Proprietor and Managers introduce themselves to us, which was nice, then as room still not ready, we dumped our luggage and went for a stroll around town. Quite often first impressions stick, but we're hoping ours will change. Prices in the main a lot cheaper than the Capital but to be honest it's a little tired and rundown. We will explore more later today. Returned to Rikitiki Tavi and finally checked into our room. It's furnished in modern designed wood and rattan, in-keeping with the hotel with very new and complex bath suite ( which took a few minutes to work out). Will do nicely, but as is the modern trend, a lack of drawer and clothes storage space means it looks like a bomb has exploded after we've unpacked.
Showered and refreshed
we walk along the river front, apparently there is a festival afoot and the main road is closed to erect stages and many booths, Paula thinks it's the Cambodian version of X Factor as TV and media stalls present. The fried locusts and crickets already frying in numerous side street woks, yummy! Anyway doubt it's today as lots more work to do. We stroll back to the old town and enjoy several beers at $0.50 each, then a good khmer meal for less than $5.00 in total, far cheaper than PhNom Pen. Of a night time the tired town and dirty streets lose that feeling under the cloak of darkness and neon, and suddenly, venues we passed by without thought become attractive places to sit for a while and people watch. On reflection, two more days here could be very good but our anticipated activities might be dictated by weather, as the forecasts are not good.
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