Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Az and Olivia and Kep
My first night out of the guesthouse Cale and I ran into Darren at The Green Man. He's from Australia and married to a Khmer woman. He as a small boat and runs sunset cruises on the river. While having a drink with him he mentioned that he was taking some guests from the Rikitikitavi out on the river that night, would we like to come along?
The sunset cruise was a delight and not just for the scenery. We also met Az and Olivia. They are a Welsh couple on a three-month vacation that takes in Southeast Asia, Australia and Hong Kong. After mostly running into such young travelers (kids as young as 18) it was nice to hang out with someone in our age bracket. Cale was also pretty pumped to have a guy to talk to. He had recently been noting that all the people we have been hanging out with since coming to Cambodia were women. Not that Cale doesn't love hanging out with women and talking about menstrual cycles and makeup tips, and not that Cale is some burly guy who wants to chug beers and talk about sports, but sometimes it is nice to have another guy to hang out with.
Darren and Az
After the boat trip we had dinner with Az, Olivia and Darren and we played a game of darts. Cale was in heaven. Other boys and darts! Woo hoo!
We ended up hanging out with Az and Olivia several nights in row. When they made the move to the Veranda resort in Kep it turned out it was the same one we had scouted the day before and had determined to return to the following day to use the pool.
The Veranda sits up the side of a mountain in Kep, a seaside city just outside of Kampot. Cale and I had motored over there for the day to check it out. In comparison to Kampot (a tiny town) Kep is miniscule. We were less than impressed with the available diversions and after the restaurant attempted to cheat us on the lunch bill were weren't too inclined to make the move from Kampot to Kep. Besides, it was only a 40 minute moto-ride away, we could always return when we wanted. After determining the beach also wasn't too exciting, we motoed up the mountain in search of a hiking trail. Jenn, a Peace Corps volunteer outside Kep, had told me that the Veranda resort sat very near to the head of a hiking trail. The trail turned out to be part of the Kep National Park. After ascertaining the location of the trail and discovering that we could use the Veranda pool if we bought $5 each in food or drink, we knew we had a plan for the next day. We would hike this trail, get good and hot and sweaty and then luxuriate in the pool.
The trail is incredibly well maintained and an easy hike. In fact, we saw both motos and tuk-tuks on the trail. However, we wanted a little exercise and decided to hoof it. There are several openings in the tree coverage where local groups or guesthouses have sponsored benches and you can see spectacular views of Kep and Kampot in the distance. We saw innumerable amounts of butterflies (Cambodia is just chock full of butterflies) and heard monkeys (though we never saw them). Just before the "summit" there is a large clearing with several benches and signs indicating what is in the distance and how far away it is. Unless you plan to hike clear around the mountain (approximately a 7k trek) this is the best stopping point. After the view the trail continues to this so called summit which offers no view other than a flag. Very anticlimactic.
As planned Cale and I had gotten quite hot and sweaty and were ready for the pool. We knew it wasn't going to be difficult to spend $5, seeing has how the margaritas we started with were $4 each. After we had been there a bit, Az and Olivia arrived. It had started to rain just then, so we sat at the pool-side bar enjoying drinks (cheaper drinks, but not by much) and goat-cheese pizza (that's right people, goat cheese). When the rain let up we were all back in the pool until our entire bodies had turned pruney. Then Cale and I hopped back on the moto and returned to Kampot.
Posted by Cale