Then another boat arrived and there was a bit of confusion for a bit as we were told it wasn’t our boat, then got told we could use it but to go get another ticket. It wasn’t till some guy came out from the company we had a ticket for, asking why we hadn’t been to see him as our boat wasn’t running today, and we had to use this one. We then realised that the hotel hadn’t informed anyone of our departure, and after I had to go to the office with this guy, I got issued another ticket.
Eventually we got going and the hour journey back wasn’t as choppy as expected, and once we got off we headed up the main street to find a travel company I had been recommended via a couple of blogs to use to get to Kampot. It was just a typical tour operators office, so we paid our $5 each and sat outside waiting for the 10:30am pick up to get us on the 11am minivan.
Whilst sat there, I checked on TripAdvisor for review of the company we had booked on to, as when I checked the ticket it wasn’t the one I expected it to be. I was horrified on reading the 1* reviews of this company, Champa TouristBus, and was already thinking of alternatives should it go tits up!
20 minutes late, a rickety old minivan turns up and we pile in with the other 7 or 8 people on there and get set for the 2 ½ hour journey ahead with a decent amount of space. The bus was driven by a young lad and his assistant, as we rallied round the bumpy streets heading out of the city.
But as I expected, we stopped at their local office and swapped to an even worse minivan where another few people were waiting, so with even less room than previously, we head off again with the same 2 up front.
It’s not long started raining (heavily) as we head out of town, and the first problem was that the wipers were not working. Not ideal, especially on these roads with a couple of kids in charge. They try their best to get them going but fail and we still head off out of town. It wasn’t till about 30 minutes later when we got on the highway, that they had to come up with a solution. Got to give it to them, tying a set of in-ear headphones to the wiper and pulling on the cable through an almost shut window did work!
The rest of the journey was uneventful, a lot of rain fell, the water was coming in the side door next to Sadie like a waterfall and the bumpy road and speeding would eventually be the downfall and we had to pull over, yep we had a puncture. Spinning it round in the pissing rain and we headed to a little roadside café, so the guys could get the spare on.
It was an ideal opportunity to use the toilet and grab a cold drink, and on looking in the fridges in the shop I noticed some ‘Kampot Cider’, at 7.5%!
I had read about some local cider that was made near here, and we had looked at a place on Google Maps near our hotel we booked called the ‘Cidershack’ but didn’t expect to see it here. Obviously, I bought a couple of bottles to sample, and it was like drinking a proper real cider from Somerset. 9 months into this trip, I have only had a few ciders and pretty much all of them are rubbish. But this stuff was good, not perfect, but the best we had had on our adventure.
As soon as the spare was on, we got on our way for the last 20km and soon arrived in the riverside town of Kampot. Then it was a short 5-minute walk to our hotel, which is on a roundabout with 7 roads leading off it, so took a little while to find the place.
We had picked a place called the Blue Buddha, recommended by a friend who stayed here a few months ago, and was on budget. It had all we needed, huge room, air-con, fridge, TV etc and we were here for 3 nights, so got unpacked and then chilled for a couple of hours.
A man shouts over to us, and we had a few words and headed onto the small front area and sat ourselves down with the one other guy there. He was clearly the owner (and friend), and we had a look at the interesting menu on the table which included sausage rolls, pasties and other similar products you might find in that UK Chain. He also does a variety of burgers and a few other things, but what caught my eye was the ciders on offer.
We started off with a Scrumpy Traditional Farm Cider at 8.5%, which was even better than the one we had earlier. As it turns out with chatting to the owner Darren, he makes this himself and sells it locally. It’s nothing to do with the Kampot Cider we had earlier, and it was even better!
Darren is originally from the UK, but has been in Cambodia for some years now, and has downsized his business to get a bit of a quieter life now, only opening Mon-Fri and shuts by 7pm at night.
As we chatted about cider, his business and life in general, we decided to try one of his sausage rolls. It was delicious and the nearest we have had to a proper one since leaving the UK, can’t wait to try some of his other savoury snacks.
A few more of his friends/ex-pats joined us over the couple of hours or so we were there, and it was a lovely evening just chatting about stuff, swapping tales and of course drinking cider! It was just like sitting in a proper pub chatting with your mates, we both enjoyed it.
One guy called Brian who was South African but lived in the UK for years was there, and was a bit of a character who had some funny stories.
I had 3 of the Scrumpy ones, then our last drink was a Strawberry Cider at a whopping 14% and we knew after drinking that we would need to go and get some food nearby soon.
It was recommended to us to try the Happy Chef, 5-minutes’ walk away so we said our goodbyes (well till tomorrow) and headed down there.
Ordered a BBQ Mix Seafood and BBQ Mixed Meat and they both came with a side of rice or chips, garlic bread and a huge pile of coleslaw. We struggled to finish it, and with a beer to wash it down the whole meal only came to $10, total bargain. We then headed back to the hotel as we both felt drunk and didn’t want to feel too bad the next day.
Kampot is famous for its farming of salt, pepper and durian, so much so that they have a roundabout called Durian Roundabout which has a huge statue of one!
Then we found where we needed to get the bus for leaving here to ensure it was booked ok as I did it online, and they thankfully confirmed it was all ok.
We then took a walk down to the river and sat there for a bit then strolled along looking at possible sunset boat tour options for the following day. Then after a quick drink, it was back to the hotel for a couple of hours to chill. We also booked a tour for tomorrow to take us to Kep, Pepper Plantation, Salt Farm and Secret Lake, via a recommendation Sadie found on Tripadvisor and was all arranged via WhatsApp for pick up at 08:30.
Then it was time to head back to the Cidershack and sample a few more lovely ciders. We also had an amazing steak & cider pie and then an apple pie, and a couple of beers too. We spoke to Darren about living here, costs etc and it’s all very cheap and sounds perfect! Brian was there again, and we met his wife Lisa too. There was another old Englishman there again from yesterday, never did catch his name but reminded us of Victor Meldrew! But a great guy with some good travel tips too as he is well travelled across SE Asia.
We then headed down to Coffee & Cocktails, which is ran by Bob, who is a friend of Darren’s (and pretty much all the expats here as they all seem to know each other). On a Wednesday, Bob gets a delivery of 240 oysters straight off the boat and does a deal which gives you 6 oysters and a beer for $3 which is a great price. Needless to say, they don’t last long, and luckily by the time we got there, he had a sign up saying 5 sets left, so of course we got 2 of them. They were delicious, and we washed them down with a few beers.
Earlier Darren also recommended to try one of Bob’s special shots, called a Springboky. It is crème de menthe topped with baileys, and it is like drinking a mint aero and we also had the kiwi version which is black sambuca topped with baileys. Both were poured at the table by Bob, and he isn’t shy with the measures either.
After a couple more beers, we had a cocktail each, I opted for a Mai Tai and Sadie went for an espresso martini. I also had a gin fizz while Sadie opted to have another Springboky, and yes by this point we were quite drunk. Brian and Lisa were both there, along with Darren who turned up later, and it is clear that pretty much all the expats in this town know each other, a great little community too it seems.
It was 9pm before we knew it, so we finished our drinks and said goodbye to our new-found friends and headed along the road to a place called Aroma House, which specialize in Mediterranean food. We ordered a hummus plate to start then I had a chicken shawarma plate and Sadie got a chicken & falafel wrap. It was all amazing, but we didn’t manage to finish them, so we got them wrapped up to take home and then headed back to the hotel.
A couple of hours later she returns with some pepper and then shortly after that we head over for our last visit to the Cidershack. Just had a couple of beers this time, and purchased some sausages rolls, a beef and potato pastie and a couple of apple and strawberry pies for our journey tomorrow.
We said our goodbyes to Darren and ‘Victor’ and dropped our shopping off at the hotel and then went out for dinner. The place I had earmarked to go to was sadly shut, but we found another place that we had stopped at the first day, and had some excellent local food, a couple of beers and 2 desserts for $14.
Then it was back to the hotel early and got packed for our journey tomorrow back to PP for a night.