About an hour out of Phnom Penh the scenery changes to flat fields with the occasional palm tree making a dramatic statement. The country dwellers are busy planting their rice crops and everywhere is a vibrant green. Planting is staggered, so some fields are filled with lush plants, others are still a muddy brown and being plowed by hand with a couple of oxen, and yet more have people bent in half planting the crops. Cows and Oxen graze in front of houses and we’ve been incredibly lucky with the weather – it’s rainy season but we’ve only had a few short downpours. The rest of the time we’ve had bright blue sky with puffy white clouds – my favourite kind of sky 🙂
Kep is a sleepy resort, if it can even be called a resort. Our hotel initially appeared to be very modern and swanky, with marble floors and a huge reception area. However, the place was dead – there hardly seemed to be any other guests, the dining room had zero atmosphere, Francesca’s bathroom had no towels and ours had quarter of a toilet roll with no spares. And then there are the staff – they speak very little English and couldn’t understand our request for towels, or how to call one room from another. Still, we weren’t there for the accommodation and were soon out to the beach.
Evening meal was at the most fabulous beachside restaurant – all rustic floorboards, old white-painted tables & chairs, bits of interesting wood and shells, a boardwalk out to sea, and lamps made out of old fishing pots.
The sunset was wonderful, as was the breeze. It made a lovely change to sit outside without the need for fans or air-con, and even at 10.00 p.m the temperature was just perfect.
We only had a day and a half in Kep, and the second day saw us driving up a mountain to yet more ruins and the most amazing photographic location where permission had been gained to shoot. I want to move the whole of the first floor to Nailsea, although there are no windows so it may be a bit cold! Whilst there, the cloud descended and it started raining, and the cloud and mist started drifting through the windows, creating an eerie but magical atmosphere. I persuaded Francesca to do some ballet poses in a tutu skirt that had been brought, and there were a couple of inches of water on the floor making the most fabulous reflections.
Once the sun had come out we went to another couple of locations that were off the beaten track, and our guide had to remind us to stay on the pathways as there are still landmines here in Cambodia – they’ve cleared thousands, but there is still one landmine casualty a month, down from hundreds. It was a long day, but well worth it.
Our last evening was spent at another lovely restaurant, after having enjoyed a lovely swimming pool and half price happy hour drinks 🙂
On the way back to the airport, our driver took a wrong turn and we came to a stop at one of the Vietnam borders! Turning around and driving back, we noticed patches of something brown on the road – it was rice drying, and the cars & scooters simply drive around them. I’m not sure how polluted that rice will be!
Lunch was back in Phnom Penh and then we had to leave for the airport. Traffic was appalling, so rather than go in a taxi, we took a couple of tuk tuks. They weave in and out of the traffic much better and scoot down little side roads. It was hot and hectic as usual, but I can’t think of a better way to end our amazing trip to Cambodia 🙂