kampot

Although only 148km from Phnom Penh, Kampot is a world away from the spoilt, pampered bourgeois youth of Cambodia’s capital city with their consumerist peripherals and shiny new Japanese motorbikes. Kampot is also far, far away from Phnom Penh’s less than lovely urban sprawl. …

drugsheart

In my last cultural studies class at a local institute, in order to break up the monotony of a difficult text, I assigned some controversial social topics for debate. Homosexual rights got them really stoked as well as abortion and euthanasia but what floored …

Note-to-Self

Many moons ago when Lord Playboy was freshly arrived in Cambodia, looking for change, adventure and a cheap, clean, substitute for nuclear fuel, I took an intensive course in learning Khmer

Having been a devoted student of the Khmer language, for many, many, hours. I …

bayong1

We stop for breakfast in Takhmau. My plump Khmer companion has a hangover from the previous night. She droops in her chair, takes small sips from a glass of hot tea, and stares into her bowl of noodle soup. Sometimes I don’t know why …

traffic cips

It is a fairly normal Sunday evening at home, normal but for one small, highly unusual, difference.

I am roaming the corridors of the flat in a mood that can only be described as ‘seriously and dangerously peevish’

It has been two days since my …

tuktuk-500

Remember awhile back when Phnom Penh’s governor decreed that 3-wheeled taxis were banned from the center city? He mentioned something about them being ‘disorderly’. I never quite got the connection between tuk-tuks and order and the ban never quite got connected to reality except …

the family2

While even the sleepiest provincial capital is a bricks and mortar affair, the areas between them are what we call ‘shack territory.’ Recently, I found myself deep in the shack territory between Pursat and Battambang, where the only signs of life are a …

no_vacancies_sign_143-R20-B

For some unknown rationale strange things happen here in Cambodia, things that you would not expect to happen ‘back in the West’. But for some reason they happen here; and not just with Khmers or the hired help.

Sometimes this is amusing, fun, quirky even. …

Kep

kep crab market.jpg

When the maelstrom that is city life gives you brain bubbles and you feel like rushing from your apartment screaming and pulling your hair out it?s worth jumping in a taxi and less than three hours later you can be a world away from the hectic, frothing madness of downtown Phnom Penh and sitting in a hammock; cold beer in hand, listening to the sounds of flapping butterfly wings rather than the rasping of cars horns. The coastal town of Kep should really have a large sign on the approach road saying ?Welcome to Kep: this is what peace and quiet feels like? because this faded former colonial resort is one of the most tranquil and laid back places in the whole of Cambodia.

Kep has clearly changed somewhat since I first visited as a na?ve innocent abroad over half a decade ago. Those were the days only the one Western guesthouse (run by an especially surly Frenchman) and a brace of Khmer owned places were operational. These days there are twice as many places to stay with plenty more land fenced off for planned future developments; by all accounts, property/land prices in Kep and Kampot are going up like oil futures.

The resort was built by the French in the early part of the 20th century and was then known as ?La Perle de la Cote d” Agathe? and served as a fashionable weekend retreat for wealthy colonials. After colonial times, Kep was a favourite of King Sihanouk who owned a nearby island where he would entertain overseas guests giving the island the nickname Isle des Ambassedeurs. The colonial villas were badly damaged by the Khmer Rouge and these days the town is dotted with the now ruined shells of formerly grand French villas lining an attractive road winding around the bay.

You won?t find any turquoise waters or powder beaches in Kep but nor will you find any sun cream smothered or bloated tourists strutting around in speedos. The thin strip of brownish sand simply isn?t the point of coming here. It?s all about the ambience; the feeling of ?getting away from it? that melts your veneers. It?s all about the warm welcome from the locals, plus, of course, the fabulous food. The sunsets in Kep are often spectacular although you?ll be hard pressed to find anywhere to fix you a decent cocktail to sip while the sun goes down.
Better by far to head down to the ever so slightly shabby crab market which sits on stilts next to the sea. Once installed, you can watch the locals jealously guarding their crab baskets and you can eat the best seafood in Cambodia. Plus if you speak a little Khmer the cooks will be more than happy to invite you into their kitchen and let you choose the particular fish you fancy eating. On my last visit I sampled the grilled grouper fish cooked in garlic and lime which I can recommend without hesitation. The crab and squid are equally safe bets.

cambo army

It is not really as if Cambodia needs much in the way of a standing army/navy/air force.

But their have been several different stories and happenings recently that does make me wonder about the state of readiness of the Khmer armed forces.

But more …