Day 14: Kampot
The company I did Bokor Mountain with yesterday is offering a ‘countryside tour’ today. It sounds quite nice; visiting a cave, the salt flats and a pepper plantation.
Fuck those tours, though. I rent a moto from my hostel for four dollars and pack a bag. I know the itinerary. I have a map. I’m on Dayna time, not group time.
The highway is a mild adrenaline rush; trucks whiz by and opposing traffic appears magically in my lane. But my focus is unwavering. Oh, how traveling will banish auto-pilot from all facets of life. Wee ha!
A dirt path leads to a small village, with little red roads joining neighbourhoods of tin shacks and wood huts on stilts. Farms stretch out in endless geometric patterns. Cows and dogs and chickens wander happily and families laze in the shade together.
It feels as though the saturation in my world just got wrenched to two hundred percent. The green rice paddies look like fields of glow worms. The dirt roads are terra cotta destinies. Even the rust on the tin shacks sparkle as if in a beet’s dream. In the distance, mountains rise up like gentle, rolling emerald waves and the waterways that cut through the earth are a splash of relief from the overconfident sunshine.
Kids wave and scream ‘Hello!’ as I scoot by, but the dogs gnash their teetch at my ankles.
I find the cave I’m looking for, and am escorted through by a kid, who charges me a dollar. I’m glad he’s there though; the cave is big and confusing with plenty of nooks and crannies.
We crawl through a hole I would never have noticed, let alone attempted to put my body through if I had. It leads to a small walkway which opens into a huge cathedral; the top opening of which is blocked by a wedged boulder. Only an earthquake could shake that sucker free.
When I reach Secret Lake after, I hang in a hammock and then wade into the brown bathwater before roaring off to the next town of Kep.
In looking for the famous Crab Shack, I end up lost by the beach, where a fellow motorist stops me. He’s looking for the crab shack, too.
A few minutes later we find it; a big market on the dock with fresh fish and gilled creatures that belong in a deep-sea divers nightmare.
Over grilled fish and squid, I find out that my scooter buddy, Joan, is actually staying in the same dorm in Kampot as I. Roomies!
We hit the beach for a swim and scoot up the mountain to take a trail through the jungle with postcard ocean views.
The sun turns red in the cloudy western sky when we zoom back to Kampot, and as we drive the rain and the night fall in sync.
We drink beer with our dorm room buddies until heading to a nearby Italian place that serves weed-laced everything, and I go home sunburnt and happily full.