Happy Khmer New Year!

What a holiday it's been. Very happy with the destination and the content. 
So for the Khmer New Year, the school had a party with me dancing, speaking Khmer and being a presenter for the show which was a first. It all went rather swimmingly.

Then on Monday, I had to work and in the afternoon fell horrifically ill. Putting my trip away in serious jeopardy. About 18 hours before the bus I felt a bit better. Not well enough to travel. Went to bed, hopefully to improve the condition.  7 hours before, I wake up from my slumber feeling that I certainly had improved but was still too dizzy to do anything. 5 hours before stopped feeling sorry for myself and tried to act normal as a way of medicating my self. 3 hours before a lot better, seems pretending to be okay has worked also i'd spent $10 on my ticket, i'll be damned if i'm not travelling after paying that. So i decided to travel. 0 hour on the bus and on my way to a town called Kampot. Popular with expats and the more savvy traveler, however this may no longer be true as it's becoming a more popular destination due to its location to the beach town of Kep, a national park and Bokor Mountain. 

Nothing booked which was a bit dangerous seeing as though everyone was migrating to Kampot for the New Year holiday. Got there without a hitch, although lots of restaurants and cafes were closed for the holiday. Phnom Penh had also become a ghost town in the mean time. Due to all the workers going back to the province to meet their families.

Anyhow i'm in Kampot and i need a place to stay and ask a tuk tuk driver, 'i need somewhere with a swimming pool.' Hop in and off we go to a place called 'Two Moons' first hotel the tuk tuk driver and I checked out and I checked in. Swimming pool? Yes. Chill? Yes. Out the town a bit? Yes. Quiet? Yes. Cheapish? Yes. Boxes checked, trunks on and in the swimming pool for a bit. So a lovely hotel was found, went out for dinner which didn't have a huge selection because of places being closed. So had a miserable meal and then returned to the hotel's bar.

Talked to a rather strange Russian-Polish-English person who lives in Russia 183 days a year to get less tax, because he's in the top tier of salary for London so doesn't want the 45% tax or whatever it is. However he does own a house in zone 1, i think he said Canary wharf.  He's interviewed one of Russia's most wanted criminals. Flies all over the world for holidays. Cuba, China, Norway, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Thailand, Vietnam and many others. He was strange, something seemed a bit off about him as he never looked me in the eye when speaking to me. Although a very clever bloke. Spoke four languages of Russian, Polish, English and a bit of Spanish. Unfortunately i forgot his name so couldn't research him. He also didn't want to tell me his job...probably KGB.

So then the next day i rented a moto. Sorry Mum! I went up to a river that wasn't particularly interesting lots of khmers enjoying themselves but not much for me. Came back and sat by the pool and got rather burnt.  In the evening talked to the same KGB bloke again and another khmer bloke who was nice and spoke lovely English. He was in Kampot just for the holiday like many others.

Then on Thursday, I decided to go down to the seaside down of Kep. Longest ride on a moto so far. Around 30 minutes. Good road as well, one small embarrassing moment was when my moto ran out of petrol. The fuel gauge didn't work, so all of a sudden it spluttered out and i was walking with it to the next petrol stop... Fuel bought, let's go! Nope, wasn't starting. So the bloke whom had filled it up said 'get off and unscrew the cap again.' I oblige. He gets down and blows into the petrol tank, afterwards he says 'off you go.' There's me questioning what the hell was that, silently laughing thinking this ain't gonna work. What d'ya know? It flaming worked and off i went. Kep was nice if it wasn't so busy! I didn't even get onto the beach because of what felt like the entire khmer population had descended on to Kep's one beach. So i rode on past and stopped a lot further down and walked around, took some photos, paddled, sat and then it became the hottest hour so i decided to shoot back to Kampot. I have unfinished business in Kep because i'm sure it's gorgeous if there wasn't ten million people there.

This evening I went to the bar again, Kirsten you'd be proud. Spoke to an Irish bloke with whom i'd had a couple of words in passing. Turns out he's travelled around Asia a fair amount and is in between contracts back in Ireland so decided to come back out to Cambodia. Loves fishing and used to be a big construction worker in London back before Europeans came over. Now does reconstruction on Georgian houses and loves it.

Friday, i decided to go even further on my scooter about an hour and go up to Bokor Mountain. Now this was beautiful road, incredible viewpoints, long sweeping bends and i was enjoying myself pretending to be Clarkson and commentating myself going around the corners. That was fun until i spoke slightly too loud and some westerners heard and i got all embarrassed. It was very far! The road just didn't stop and i was fearing for my life that i was going to run out of petrol half way up this mountain....thankfully it didn't and there was a little stall at the top that had some petrol.  Stayed up there for a while and came back. Again half of Cambodia seemed to decide it was a good idea to go up there as well. So rather busy again.

Back to the pool and bar for the night. Spoke with a lovely couple and played uno with them for half a night. Lovely conversation about what they think of Cambodia, their experience and what they do and everything, really, really nice conversation. Plus i won at Uno. So y'know Preston's were on top again. Too many years spent playing that game.

Saturday, leaving day. Not happy to be going back to the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh. My bus was at 3. So had time to kill. By the pool. Met a lovely bloke called Alan (i think). Who was on a mission helping locals with something, i can't remember. For about an hour and a half we had a frank conversation on religion and life. Which for the first time in my life since i was a child i have had a serious conversation about religion and had my questions answered about it. I'm still agnostic so don't worry, that i'm going to be a bible basher all of a sudden. However it was really nice to talk about all the issues with it, the problems it's creating, middle east, muslims and islam, the world, america, evolution and logic. I have never had that. I got sunburnt in the process of being so caught up in the conversation. Also he was an evangelical christian and he started talking about 'elders' which he said was just a word taken from the bible but it in my immature mind i thought 'oh my god, it's a cult.' He's going to start speaking in tongues in a minute. All joking aside, lovely bloke, great conversation.

Then from that same group, i was sat next to a women on the bus on the way home. Who had lived here for a year and a half. She spoke near fluent khmer. It was lovely to finally  meet someone who spoke khmer with a western mouth so i could ask all my burning questions about the language and how to speak it. That made the three hour journey back to Phnom Penh fly by. Holiday over. Back to work on Monday.

Very successful, tanned and happy. I will be returning to Kampot very soon as there is a three day weekend in a fortnight! See you soon Kampot!

Here have some photos

Kep, no people where there's no beach.

Bar and a screwdriver.

Bokor Mountain view point

Big chinese 6 star resort on top of Bokor

Old abandoned church


Above the clouds.

Old abandoned casino

Big lizard that woke me up every morning.

Me being artistic....

Pool and hotel.