After a couple of weeks in Vietnam we hopped on a bus from Ho Chi Minh City across to Phnom Penh, our first port of call in Cambodia. 6 bumpy hours on the bus, a border crossing, a tuk-tuk journey and a 2 hour wait later, and our room we had booked the previous night was ready. We were let into the room, and it was far from appealing. There were interesting black dots on the sheets thats raised a few questions and alerted my suspicions… I tugged back the cover and my worst fears were confirmed – a whopping, great big bed bug was scuttling around. Bare in mind these hideous things can’t normally be seen without a good search for them; that should give you an idea on the size of the beast.
After our previous experiences with the disgusting creatures, that was it, there was no way I could face staying there and re-living the sleepless, itchy nights and constant paranoia and nightmares about bugs. We made a prompt departure from the room, whipped out the laptop and hooked up to the wifi in the bar. Within 30 minutes we had found a place in a 3-star hotel with jolly good reviews and we had arrived, were welcomed with some delicious concoction and upgraded to a bigger room. For £25 a night and free of crawlers (almost £20 more than bug central AKA The Blue Dog) we were more than happy.
As it turns out, staying in a nice place turned out to be a blessing in disguise and not only because it meant avoiding bedbugs; we both came down with a hideous fever come body flu type affair. Which meant, we spent most of our time in bed. We attempted the National Museum but it was a waste of $10 as no sooner than we had paid and entered I had to sit down and wait for Ed to have a quick flit around before returning to the hotel and sleeping for the entire day. A couple of days had passed and we had already booked our bus to Kampot, so we had to grin and bear it and make our way down south.
Now, Kampot! What a perfect place to recover from feeling like utter poo.Kampot is a little riverside down where tooting and hooting and risking life and limb to get from one side of the road to another are a thing of the past. We splashed out one more night and stayed in a beautiful hotel called The Columns.
Having already booked (back in Phnom Penh, before rubbish illness set in) a 2 night stay in an eco-lodge just outside the town centre, the next day we were in a tuk-tuk and made the 4km journey out to Ganesha’s Riverside Eco Lodge. Back to basics here; we stayed in what they affectionately call a ‘tribal hut’ – think wooden hut on stilts complete with mattress on the floor, mozzy net and a fan. Throw in the manual flushing communal toilets and sharing your room with the likes of snakes, spiders, toads and an array of flying insects, it was the ideal place to do nothing but appreciate nature. Unfortunately, Ed was still feeling pretty rough so we couldn’t explore the surroundings, but we appreciated the view from our hut and the availability of nutella.
After 2 nights eco-ing it up, we were back in the town. We decided until we were feeling tip-top, or as good as, we were staying put. Moving around every few days had taken it’s toll so it was time to rest up. We stayed in a cheaper but clean and functional place called NyNy Hotel, and did nothing but test out the cafes (one of which – Epic Arts, sells marmite and REAL – yes real, cheese bagels. Heavenly) and by the third day, Ed felt well enough to venture out (and up) to the Bokor National Park.
We saw the remnants of the French Colonial era in the hill station and deserted hotel, and the awful, countryside-ruining, money-grabbing plans for a resort some rich people have in the pipeline. The day tour gave us a chance to chat to our local Cambodian tour guide, providing us with our first proper opportunity since entering the country to learn about some of the social issues that surround Cambodia (which is far too many for this post right now).
We saw some beautiful scenery and the best bird I’ve ever seen! Way too quick for a camera, it was huge and jungle-like and beautiful! Following the day exploring, the tour finished off back in the town with a 2-hour sunset cruise.
Despite the sunset being far from perfect under the cloud cover, it was a great way to finish the day and reflect on the absolute loveliness of Kampot, the town that doesn’t really have much to see or do, but that is the real beauty of it.