Sunday, July 4, 2010
Kampot is famous for its pepper. Most the packaged tour deals in the area include a visit to a pepper plantation. Cale and I are not packaged tour people. Instead one day we decided to scoot out to where the pepper plantations were indicated on the map and have a poke around. The moto up the hill (mountain?) itself was beautiful. The first sign we passed indicating a pepper farm also had a kid outside flagging us down, so we decided to stop. The kid was probably about eight and had enough English to give his pepper spiel (i.e. walk you over to a small pepper garden patch, point at plant, display tiny peppercorn buds, indicate they take about 6 months to grow and walk us over to the stand to buy pepper). Cale was happy to buy pepper from the source, especially because it was dramatically cheaper than in town. While we were there we saw a tuk-tuk blow past with a tourist in the back and we decided to continue in that direction. Maybe there were more informative pepper plantations ahead. We stopped at another one, but the best we can tell a pepper plantation tour with out a hired tuk-tuk tour guide is simple a walk around fields of tall, staked plants. Hmm.. scenery was still pretty and Cale got a mess of cheap, awesome pepper.
Since we were in a scooting mood and already out in that direction we decided to continue on to Kampong Trach, which is just outside of Kep. We were motoing down a dirt road when a kid on a bike pulled up next to us and kept pace (it was an extremely pitted, bumpy road, so we were going slow). His English was off the hook and he was extremely chatty, wanting to know all about us and where we were from. We just thought he was super friendly, but eventually we came to the catch. He was one of the kids that guide barang around the cave shrines. Not having anything else to do we paid our dollars and followed him into some caves where lots of Buddha statues and other religious relics have been set up. This kid also had a whole spiel prepared and pointed out all these rock formations that sort of look like animals and whatnot.
After we had poked around in the damp, dark caves for a bit I called up the local Peace Corps couple and asked if they could recommend a place to eat. They suggested a nondescript place with incredibly cheap, good fried rice. We sat there for a while and an older gentleman came by and tried to engage Cale in a conversation that was a mix of his minimal English and Cale's Khmer. One thing I have noticed here is people are super eager to practise their English and seem to have no hangups over just diving into conversation head first with no worries about getting in over their heads. It is the best way to learn. Cale is always saying he knows just enough Thai to get in over his head. He can say enough for the Thai speaker to think he knows Thai and then they just let loose a long, paragraph-like sentence that leaves Cale standing, mouth a little agape, brow creased in concentration, completely baffled by what has been said.
Anyway, that was are random drive around day and find ourselves being shown around by small children.
Posted by Cale