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March 16th 2016
Published: March 28th 2016
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Tina Writes

While researching our trip I came across a travel blogger (NeverEndingSteps) who I have started to refer to when I need inspiration. She had spent a bit of time in southern Cambodia and recommended a guest house in Kampot. I couldn’t find any others that weren’t a bit crap so I booked it. Rikitivitavi Hotel was a bit more expensive than i’d liked at £34 per night but with the recommendation I thought it could be worth it. It was indeed very nice. The staff were unbelievably nice and the western owners very friendly. Our room was nice too and breakfast was great. It was probably £4 over priced.

Kampot was a lovely little town by a river. One of the big things to do here is Bokor Hill Station. A place I had read about over the years in blog after blog and had marked on my Googlemap. We had arrived quite early, so I talked Rob into hiring a moped so we could explore Bokor on our own, at our own pace. After he told me all about the fact that our insurance doesn’t cover us and generally snapped at me for half an hour, we hired a bike for $5 for the day. We headed straight to Bokor. To get there you have to travel up the mountain through a very windy road. Luckily for us, the whole road is very new. Apparently it used to be nightmare to get up there as the road was such a mess. It was great fun. Rob was in his element even if the brakes didn’t really work. He just kept shouting ‘this is the best road ever’.

We came to the first point of interest, an abandoned summer house which used to belong to the King, or so I read. It was pretty small for once having been royal residence. We had a wonder around in here and the other houses nearby. Directly across from this was a giant Buddha, unusual as it was a lady Buddha. It was absolutely horrendous until I realised it looked exactly like something from the Simpsons and suddenly it was cool.

As we had climbed the mountain we suddenly felt a major drop in temperature and it was quite cold. Bliss! We carried on up the mountain and passed the brand new Bokor Hill resort, a massive hotel and casino. It looked quite cool but pretty empty. Then we came across the first abandoned building of the set, a Catholic Church. We had a wonder round and it seemed to still be in use, kind of. People have decorated the alter with religious statues anyway. I had seen many photos of the exterior of these buildings and it often looked very spooky as the weather is usually dim and foggy but today was a scorcher, so not so spooky.

Next we arrived at the hotel. Basically, it is an abandoned hotel and casino built by the French in the 1920’s as a place for the elites to escape the heat of Phnom Pehn. After it was abandoned by them, the elite Cambodians took over but it was again abandoned during the Vietnam War and eventually used by the Khmer Rouge. I had first read about it around 6 years ago but since then attempts at redevelopment have seen the building get a bit spruced up, so it’s not quite as spooky as it used to be. The renovations have never come to anything though but now it looks like a new build that has ran out of money. Some of the bathrooms even have modern, fancy tiling in them. We explored thoroughly going up and down all the levels and all the rooms. The view from the garden was spectacular, showing all of Kampot and more as far as the eye could see.

Once we finished exploring we made our way back down. We saw a sign for a waterfall, so went to check it out. You had to pay a dollar to get in but they gave you a bottle of water each. They had already charged us a ‘toll’ at the bottom of the mountain which had annoyed me as it is clearly just a way of getting more money from tourists. You could argue it’s for the new road but I assumed his was built by the new resort. Anyway, we paid the dollar and went to the waterfall. NO WATER! They charged us a $1 to look at a dry waterfall.

We headed back down the mountain, which was interesting considering the brakes didn’t really work. The road was dead though and Rob is Mr Safe so it was good fun. At the bottom I had a try of the bike. I very nearly went flying into a ditch and couldn’t really understand it so that was the end of that. Locals pointed and laughed as they whizzed by on their bikes, pointing to the ditch in front of me.

Rob had really enjoyed the bike and felt much more confident now, so we hired it for the next day too. We decided to visit Kep, the next town which is by the beach, and take a boat over to Rabbit Island. It was a hard ride on the bike today for me as my ass was laupin! We had to stop several times so I could rest it. The freedom the bike gives us is worth it though. We bought a boat ticket and stood on the pier waiting with dozens of others, many of them getting on different boats but to the same destination. It was a bit chaotic and senseless. Eventually we got on our boat with about 5 others and headed toward the island. About half way there, the boat turns around and heads back to the pier. The guy in front of us starts shouting to the driver ‘where the fuck are you going’. The driver ignored him and carried on. We got to the pier and two people got in. The guy started screaming at the ticket seller, and he got some support from the woman behind him. Apparently he had seen the driver argue with the boat organiser before we set off about taking these two passengers and he set off without them, only to be radioed half way there and told to come back and collect them despite many other boats leaving the pier for the same destination in the mean time. Neither the driver, nor the ticket seller gave a shit. We only had 3 hours on the island as it was, now we only had 2.5 hours.

We eventually got there. It was a lovely beach with dozens of wooden bungalows along it. It reminded us of Gili Air but we were able to enjoy it as we knew we were going back to our lovely, insect free, air con room. We realised there wasn’t much to do as the beach was quite short and we were not able to do the 2 hour hike to the other side of the island. Even if we had the time, there is no way I was doing that! So we got something to eat, played with a kitten and for the last half hour got a foot massage. Now, this foot massage. $2.50 for 30 minutes was the best. I reached the most relaxed state I have ever been in. I lay there thinking how it was like paradise. If I ever win the lottery, one of the first things I have always said I would do, would be to employ a full time masseuse. In South East Asia, it’s kinda like having that, as massage is everywhere and insanely cheap. I lay there on the really comfy massage bed, the sea lapping behind me, the shade and breeze was perfect, Rob next to me getting his massage. I had no work to worry about for over a month, no supermarket shopping playing on my mind. It was perfection. I was so relaxed it kinda felt like I was on something.

The massage was over all too quickly and we had to catch our boat back. The sun was beating down hard and we were completely exposed sitting on the boat, so Rob picked up a life jacket and used it as a little head tent, creating shade. I copied him and as stupid as we looked, it was much more comfortable. We rode back to the hotel and watched the last episode of Breaking Bad. It was a good day.

Against all advice from the staff in the hotel, we booked a mini bus to our next destination, Sihanoukville. $12 instead of $35 for a private car transfer seemed worth it to me, plus it was only a 3 hour journey. It was a shit bus and very uncomfortable but it was still worth the saving, even if I had to listen to 20 year olds talking about what drugs they do and don’t do (the big H is a no go, everything else is cool btw, just so you know). We quickly caught a tuk tuk to take us to Otres Beach 2 where paradise awaits.

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