In search of relaxation (& pepper!) in Kep, Cambodia

Our first experience of Kep a few years ago was very positive, which is why we decided to return earlier this year……oh and for the pepper…! We know that you can buy Kampot pepper elsewhere, but we sometimes like travelling with a purpose!  We’d run out of pepper (and it is damn fine pepper!) so it seemed like a good excuse to go back to get some more.

There was a time when I would hate to go back to a place I’d already visited.  Seen Kep? Yes! Want to go back? God no, there are loads of other places I want to visit! Whilst this is still somewhat true, the older that I’ve gotten, the more I appreciate spending longer in one place in order to get to know it better.  When I was younger, it was all about arriving somewhere, seeing as much as possible and then moving on.  I still love discovering new places but I also love taking the time to get to know them.

Kep Beach

It’s one of the reasons that I’ve returned to Cambodia so many times now.  I am also not able to travel at the rate that I could when I was younger and a slower pace of travel suits me more nowadays.

Which brings us back to this trip and our need for a bit of downtime. We decided on one of the islands (Koh Rong Samloem) off the coast of Sihanoukville with a detour to Kep….for the pepper!

It was definitely worth it, not only did we come back with about four kilograms of pepper (red, white and black if you’re interested! …oh and a little bit of salt too!), but we had a lovely few days just pottering around the town.

One of the joys of returning somewhere I’ve been before is I don’t get that panicked feeling that I MUST see everything!! I don’t feel guilty if we don’t go on a trip to the salt fields, or on a day long hike.

We spent a very enjoyable few days pottering around the local market, wandering around to Kep beach, hanging out there for a while watching all the local families who had come down for the day to enjoy some time by the sea.  The pavement around the beach was packed with families, each claiming their spots with brightly coloured mats, hammocks and picnics.  There were attendants helping people find parking spots and vendors selling all manner of snacks to those who needed some refreshments.

Kep crab shacks – loads of restaurants offering up all sorts of fresh fish & seafood

Kep itself is a sleepy little town with a small market, a small beach and a lot of restaurants that serve seafood and Kep crab, which is supposed to be amazing…. as I don’t eat seafood the offerings are fairly limited and I’ve found sometimes they are not great quality, which is a bit of disappointment.

Non fishy food!

But it is a great place to hang out for a while and unwind.  It definitely helps when you stay somewhere like Raingsey Bungalows.  We returned there as we loved it the first time around.  It didn’t disappoint this time either, even though it had been taken over by new management. They organised our taxi from the airport for us….although we do seem to be jinxed with that!

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Our room at Raingsey Bungalows

The first time we stayed, the taxi didn’t turn up. We managed to phone the guesthouse who phoned the driver, who had gotten his days mixed up and thought the job was for the following day! I did feel for him as it was early morning and he faced a three hour drive to Kep with us!

This time the taxi was waiting for us, all good… we thought….. we drove towards the exit edging into the queue.  The driver then started to look around him, in the glove box, under the seat…. what was going on?! He then explained….well, tried to mime….that he couldn’t find his ticket to exit the airport…..

The searching started to get a bit more frantic until he couldn’t stay in the queue any longer and we pulled off to one side.  We sat in the car for a few minutes, searching around our seats, but the day was starting to heat up and it was getting stifling hot in the care very quickly.  My partner went for a cigarette and I tried to help the search…but I didn’t really know what I was looking!

Phnom Penh airport

By this time we were attracting attention and a few people had come over to the car to stare at us….and eventually join in the search!

Every inch of the car was poured over and when the security guards finally turned up chuckling to themselves, we were coming to the conclusion that it was a lost cause.

In the meantime I sought shade under a nearby tree as the temperature was climbing even more and I was starting to melt! I really did feel for the driver, it was obvious that he wasn’t going to get out of this without a fine….which he didn’t.  Eventually he admitted defeat and we were escorted out of the car park by one of the guards and we were on our way.  Maybe it will be third time lucky if we decide to go back there!

We arrived safely and were delivered to our accommodation.  It was as serene and peaceful as we remembered it and all the little jobs that had been outstanding on our last trip had been finished and the place had a much more established feel about it.

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The pool at Raingsey Bungalows

We dumped our bags and had a quick peek at the gorgeous pool… and I did a double take….

“What’s that at the bottom??” I said to my partner.

“What the plastic frog?” he replied.

“Urrr, I don’t think that’s a frog…”

He came and peered over the edge of the pool with me.

“Hmmm, no that’s definitely not a frog.”

We walked up to the reception to check in and casually said, “I think you may have a scorpion in your pool.”

The receptionist instantly looked up with a fleeting look of horror in his eyes and then very calmly asked us to show him.  We pointed to the fairly large black scorpion that was sitting at the bottom of the pool.

“Oh yes” he said, “no problem we will get rid of it…. I think it’s dead.”

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We returned to the process of checking in and someone came and scooped the scorpion from the bottom of the pool!

I can confirm that I did not encounter another creature of that ilk again during our time there!  Although I did look twice every time I got in that pool!!




Interested in our trip to the islands?  Please see Cambodia – beach time

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