Yesterday I caught an early bus from Sihanoukville to Kampot. What could have taken an hour door to door in Cambodian time (with endless messing around and errand-running en route) ran into hours. Frustrating. But I wasn’t exactly in a rush.
Kampot is just off the south coast inland slightly and on the river. It is dominated by crumbling French colonial architecture and if you look hard enough and shut out the sights and sounds of modern day Kampot you can just about imagine the town in its former glory. This is the old cinema.
Yesterday I wandered around town taking in the sights and rhythms of the place, and was then talked into a tuk tuk ride to a fishing village. Right decision as it turned out to be one of the highights of my time in Cambodia, going out into the countryside and well off the tourist trail that is so well established here but so badly done.
First we stopped off at a salt farm – never seen one of them before! The land was aub-divided into small rectangular areas, each with slightly raised edges of earth, and within each sea water was collected and left to evaporate leaving the grainy sea salt behind. I watched men and women, hunched over brushing the salt free of the land into heaps and then collecting their gains in bamboo baskets that they carried into the collection shed. It was a truly amazing sight.
Next, we went on to a Muslim fishing village where we saw women sitting under their houses making fishing nets, the only brick/solid building in the village (the mosque), children riding bikes several sizes too big for them, and endless buffalos grazing in the fields. Here is the bridge I walked over to reach the boats:
As we drew into the next village, the tuk tuk was greeted by what seemed like dozens of beeming faces from the local children. If you can’t beat them join them, right? So I invited them all to hop on board (to their delight) and they laughed at me as I tried to pronounce all their names. Then they insisted I take their photos so they could see them in the camera afterwards.
After that, my driver took me to his friends’ place for rice wine (actually, I think it was wine made from sugar palms) and some kind of sea food. It was at that point that he seemed to suggest we get married, at which point I thought it might be the right time to ask him to drop me back at my hotel. And that, thank you very much, but I didn’t want any more wine. But it was all done in a very good natured way, so all is good with the world…