We left Kampot to venture onwards to Sihanoukville, where we were to join the grandparents (my parents, Alan & Jeanette). But before meeting them we had 4 days to kill so we bought a ticket for the ferry to Ko Rong Samloem.
Still a bit jaded from our nightmarish experience leaving Ko Phagnan, we were more than a little dismayed by the tiny boat we wobbled on to. Especially when all the seats around us were fu and there were still thirty odd people still on the pier waiting to board. It was quite a maneuver to step on ourselves, with the waves rocking the boat a good 4 feet up and down, never mind the handing over the precious parcels of Jess and Otto. We'd no sooner got sat down when we had to get off again.
Luckily, the captain deemed it overloaded enough to ask everyone to disembark and board the larger Catamaran.
The ride was rocky but being battle hardy now it was fine.
The island was an absolute paradise. Gin seas as Mikey liked to refer to them. White sands that would rival the Maldives greeted us. Although a little overpriced for Cambodia ($45 for a basic fan hut and on/off electricity) it was worth a visit for such a perfect beach.
With nothing to do but relax, build sandcastles and dodge jellyfish (the only imperfection in an otherwise ideal sea for the kids) we easily whiled away four days before heading back to the mainland to pick up the folks.
After some slight communication issues with the TukTuk driver taking us 10km in the wrong direction we eventually arrived late to find Alan and Jeanette sitting outside the tiny airport the last ones to be collected. Karma perhaps for all those years I was last to be collected from school youth clubs. Still, I did feel a little guilty.
No harm done and we spent a lovely three days in Otres 2 beach. They have a festivalesque market which we visited on Saturday night to eat and listen to some great live music. We also had a great day trip to three islands (Ko ta Kiev being the only one I remember the name of). We all saw a little too much sun but saw lots of sea life snorkeling off the back of the boat and ate a sand encrusted BBQ lunch on another crystal clear sea beach.
We left Otres the following day to take a hair raising taxi to the border town of Ko Kong. A number of near misses from crazy overtaking maneuvers added much excitement whilst we looked for elephants amongst the jungle clad hills of the Cardamon National park. Ko Kong was nothing to write home about and so I won't! We crossed the border back into Thailand for our third visit to the island of Ko Kood, which is reportedly like Ko Samui
20years ago. We hope it lives up to expectations.
Three nights in Kampot was easily extended to seven, thanks mostly to the great hospitality we had at Bohemiaz, a wonderful eco friendly resort just outide the town. Brian and Michelle the father and daughter team that run the place. Great food, a fussball table and a naturally filtered swimming pool complemented by a friendly troop of cats and dogs a large room with bunkbeds and even babysitting!!
Of course we were going to overstay.
Plus Kampot is a great town. There is a soft play area for the kids. Plus a cinema where you can hire a private room for $3 US and watch one of over a thousand films. The town is also host to a number of restaurants and bars which host live music and great dancing.
Most days we spent playing in the pool with a quick visit into town.
We had a fun evening at Koi Koi, a locals favourite restaurant /open mic night where Jess and Otto ended up on stage and we ate amazing beef and Kampot pepper.
The sunset cruise was amazing with beautiful skies and watching the fishermen bringing home their catch.
We are now in Cambodia after again being forced to flee from Thailand owing to visa expiration. A number of countries were in the offing this time. Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia but we settled on Cambodia for a few reasons. Namely it looked the cheapest and it was an easyish overland crossing. Plus although we have been once before it was such a fleeting visit we felt up for exploring it in more depth.
So we left our french campsite place in Bang Saphan after a week and started the overland trek. We stopped in at Hua Hin and caught up with Jase Koeppl amid the chinese new year celebrations. Saw some awesome kite surfers on the beaches south of the centre and broke our no drinking February (oh well)
A stop in Bangkok and a frantic early morning trail across the city to try and post a damaged tablet to the UK for repair. Who knew it was forbidden to post phones or tablets in Thailand! arrrggh!
Anyway after long discussions it was agreed I could post it if it didn't have battery in it so with much careful prising and teasing I (yes me, luddite that Mikey would have me believe I am) took the Hudl apart and removed the battery!
Sorry I'm waffling.
Anyways a quickish two days travel via Chanthaburi which seems a lovely town and some dubious border officials at Hat Lek and we crossed into Cambodia. An expensive taxi ride to Battambang saw a brief end to the days of travel.
Battambang is Cambodia's 2nd largest city but it feels small enough to walk around. It is full of lovely cafes, bars, galleries and restaurants. Most of which are connected in some way with social enterprise charities to help educate and care for the disadvantaged in society. Unsurprisingly we loved it there and spent 6 days There's a fair bit to do in and around the city.
Our top picks were:
Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus - amazing performance and a great cause. Set up over 20 years ago it educates over 1000 disadvantaged children and adults and uses visual arts and circus skills to build life skills and confidence.
Bamboo train - a bamboo raft balanced on wheels propelled at about 30km/hr along a single track very rickety rail line (not for the feint hearted)
Crocodile Farm - over 400 crocs. We had a tight hold on the kids as they were pearing into the pits.
Bat Cave - a dusk extravaganza of streaming masses of bats. Good as a spectacle although maybe bring a umbrella if you dont want bat poop on your head.
No sign of Brad Pitt unfortunately although I was looking out for him. Angelina was definitely in town as she was finishing the filming of her new film 'First They Killed My Father'. As a result of a major Hollywood film being shot, there was rather a lot of American's in town but actually the ones we met who were working on the film were pretty much the nicest of them all. They weren't preaching their mission values at us at least. We met a guy working on the special fx who had been 5 months in the country filming who reckoned this film has been a life altering experience for him. I hope it tells the story well as it is an important and devastatingly recent horror to tell. I can't help but think of what the people of this country have been through and yet they remain so joyful and caring and fun loving.
So we've now arrived in Phnom Penh and the prices are 3 times what they were in Battambang but we have a lovely pool and there are heaps of things for the kids to enjoy here.
Can't wait to meet my folks in a few weeks time! Keep well everyone!
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Kelly and Mikey (but mostly Kelly). We sold up in the UK to travel with our two littluns for a year or so. If you want to know more click the about us!