Whilst in between Kampot and Kep, I felt rather like a living, breathing stereotype – here’s why: wedged between two cities and (literally) off the side of a main road is Man’Groove Guesthouse, where I stayed. For 4.20$, I had access to a room with a double bed, but a (simple) shared toilet, and the surrounding view of the local fishing village we were situated in; colourfully furnished and with music ranging from jazz to lo-fi to indie constantly playing, it was the typical backpacker experience, frequented by, of course, the epitome of “hippie backpackers” – the dead cockroach outside my door the evening I arrived and lack of warm water a part of that experience, of course. So I decided, alright let’s do this “do nothing” thing and spend my first day in Kampot/ Kep sitting by the river, observing the movement of the greenery, writing, doodling, and occasionally conversing with a fellow Malaysian I stumbled upon whilst there.
The next day the stereotype continued as I ventured to a pepper plantation and devoured fresh crab from the Kep Market – the two most famous things to do. As there are many pepper plantations to choose from, I recommend visiting La Plantation as there are free guided tours daily – inclusive of sampling the various peppers and also available in French; plus, an indescribable view of the “secret lake” FOC.
Regarding the (crab) market, do note that its entire hustle and bustle stops at 4pm but many vendors will remain until the evening; which is when I arrived. I immediately went to the pier and found a woman selling half a kilo of fresh crabs for 4$ – she gave instructions to another person when I agreed to the price and this person then went into the ocean via a ladder and retrieved a wooden basket filled to the brim with crabs! To have it fried with fresh pepper costed an extra 5,000 Cambodian Riels and a portion of rice costed 1,000 Cambodian Riels so altogether I paid 5.50$ (21MYR) – still a massive bargain.
From Kampot/ Kep, I moved onto Otres in Sihanoukville – it was my last destination in Cambodia so I decided I just had to taste the infamous Kampot pepper again. If you’re thinking of visiting Sihanoukville then I definitely recommend staying in or around Otres Village – it’s also a perfect base for day-trips to Koh Rong (around 20$).
“Kampot Pepper… It’s got a floral dimension that’s really something special.” Anthony Bourdain