The Ghostly Bokor Hill Station

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May 9th 2006
Published: June 2nd 2006
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The three hour drive from Phnom Penh was definitely one of our more interesting journeys. There are apparently no scheduled buses to Kampot so we had to make our way to a market square in Phnom Penh where we could pay $4 to join a minibus that drove through Kampot on the way to somewhere else.

When we got to the market place, the minibus was jam-packed. However, miraculously, two seats appeared at the back. The back turned out to be where bags are usually stowed (think of a mini-van - the luggage stow area is actually very small) with a thin bench added behind of the "back seats". We thought, "Why not?" and jumped in.

Well, we had to use some contortion moves to get in, and by the time we set off I had an arm out the window and Steve's neck was flat against the roof so that he could only look down at the floor. This was all quite amusing at first, but after 30 mins we no longer saw the funny side. The van stopped and Steve got out and sat on the roof; his favourite place on a bus anyway.

The day after we arrived in Kampot, we saw examples of the Khmer Rouge rampage when we visited Bokor Hill Station near Kampot. In it's hey-day, there was a hotel, casino and church on top of Bokor Hill, that thrived on the exuberance of the wealthy. However, when the Khmer Rouge took over, they completely decimated the place, and it's true to say the place is a ghost town. Walking through the old hotel you can almost sense the spirits. The KR took everything from it, including the wiring inside the walls. You can see where mortar shells have blown through windows and blown apart stairwells. As the mist drew in as we were there, it gave a real sense of the ghostly sadness of the place; not a place you'd want to be at night. However, it is a good place to visit to see the effects of the Khmer Rouge years, without having to see the torture that took place.

Kampot itself is lovely. Apparently a few old KR still live there, but of course no longer fight with arms. We stayed at a fab guesthouse called "Blissful" run by a girl called Angela. At US$5 a night for a double room and bathroom in an old villa, there were certainly no complaints from us. We would also recommend the "Rusty Keyhole" to anyone ravenous for a good meal. We had the BBQ ribs that were the biggest and meatiest we have ever seen!

Kampot has not yet been spoiled by tourism, with only a handful of guesthouses and restaurants, so visit it soon. Unfortunately we could only stay for a couple of days as we had an appointment to meet the Falang Rangers and our Singapore friends in Saigon for Steve's birthday. What a hoot that was going to be!

However, before heading back to Phnom Penh to catch our bus to Vietnam, we decided that it was finally time to get rid of Steve's feral beard! It had been quite dashing for a while but now it was starting to grow in every direction in all different colours, including red and orange!

After having some breakfast in the local market, we walked along the main street assessing the strengths of the various barbers. We could go with the guy who had set up a barber shop on his front porch with a mirror and a chair, or we could go with the beauty salon. We thought the latter would be safer with regards to used razor blades, and we were right. I witnessed the blade coming out of brand new packaging! I think it was quite a thrill for the barber; I'm sure he had never seen a beard quite like it before. Steve also had an audience during the operation which took nearly 45 mins. To our wonderful surprise, a new thin faced Stephen was revealed at the end of the shave - check out the photos! When once people were guessing his age at 40, he is now getting guesses of 26-28. Sweet. We gave the barber a 100% tip; the shave cost US$1.

Additional photos below
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Brekky for SteffieBrekky for Steffie
Brekky for Steffie

While Steve searched out the offal soup, Stef found her favourite; sweet beans and other stuff with condensed milk!

7th June 2006

O where O where is Osama bin stephen hiding?
Hi guys, this travel blog is such an effective way to keep everyone in the know with where you are and what your doing, keep up the great updates. It's nice to see your cheeks again Steve, i was a little concerned you might have been mistaken someone wanted for global terrorism. All is well in Old Sydney Town, ain't nothing much changed but the weather. Happy Birthday Bro, i cant say try something different because you are, so just keep on keeping on! speak to you both Soon, Dave.

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