Day 15: Kampot
5:57 on the clock.
It’s a rare day that I have to think ahead, but with Vietnam on the horizon, I must apply for my visa.
Scouting for a travel agency on my scooter, I follow a slew of motorists down a busy street by the market. A cop blows his whistle and gestures to the side of the road. I pull over. I shoot him confused looks, half genuine and half exaggerated, preparing to play the dumb tourist. Another cop sits at a table with a notepad, explaining that I ignored a No Entry sign entering this street. Sure. For that violation, I owe him a dollar, and another for not wearing a helmet.
“I have my helmet right here though!”
I open the seat of the scooter and smush the helmet on my head.
He looks at me.
I hand him a one dollar bill and he waves me away.
Law; defied. Sorta.
I find a travel agency, pay a man sixty-seven dollars and hand over my passport. He should have it back to me in two days with my visa. That’s how these things work? See you soon, passport. I cross my toes.
After lunch, it’s over the bridge and off to check out a waterfall. For two kilometres, I follow a paper trail of fake American one hundred dollar bills, littered all over the highway as though the Monopoly Man had passed Go with more than his fair share.
Turning down a dirt road leading to something called The Greenhouse, I bump along until a scooter pulls up next to me.
“I’m not following you, I swear!”
It’s Joan, appearing on this empty, pot-holed path. Apparently, we had similar plans.
The Greenhouse is nothing mentionable, so I follow Joan to a hostel in the jungle called Arcadia, a Lonely Planet go-to. It’s a funky backpacker hostel on the river, complete with bar, hip young travellers and semi-dangerous water toys. A rope swing from a platform six metres high, a massive floatie used to launch people into the river, a giant wooden catapult swing.
We spend all afternoon playing in the water and racing each other to the opposite side of the river.
We’re back at our dorm by 630, accidentally waking Flo, the German, from an afternoon slumber. The three of us head downstairs for some guitar and singing and beer. We’re joined by the two Italian guys, Cesare and Andrea, as well as the cute couple from Barcelona, Jorge and Lucia. We hit up Happy Special Pizza for food, the place where they put the Happy and the Special in not just the Pizza.
Then the monsoon comes and soon, Joan, Flo and I are the last ones standing.
The rain has flooded the streets a foot deep, and we run into it, stomping around like kids who are about to get the wooden paddle.
Flo kicks a brown stream of water into my face. I laugh.
“That’s so dirty!”
“Who cares!” He screams back.
I send a sludgy stream his way.
On the ride home, our scooters part the brown street-seas like Moses’ homeless brother.
Then we crawl into our respective beds, and dream of all things happy and special.