In Kampot we decided to embrace local culture and overcome our fears by renting a moto. Fortunately, we could rent one from our hotel for only $5 USD a day.
Despite Joel expressing to the hotel management that he knew basically nothing about how to drive a moto, we received keys, helmets, and very little instruction. It was a bumpy start. Learning to ride a moto on a muddy dirt road isn’t the easiest. Joel practiced by himself first, then I said a little prayer and climbed aboard behind him. It wasn’t long before we got the hang of it and headed into town for dinner at Simple Things. We navigated some busy traffic circles along the way and purchased gas from a barefoot roadside attendant - who was otherwise, oddly, well dressed.
The next morning we booked a stand-up paddle board tour with SUP Asia. It was a nice day to be on the water and check out the mangrove reforestation project. I’ll need a few more lessons though before I can master the “stand up” aspect of paddle boarding!
Afterwards we decided to test our moto road skills up the steep, winding, road to Bokor Hill Station atop Bokor Mountain. It was a gorgeous ride up through the clouds. I was excited to explore the abandoned French Colonial buildings at the top and was hoping for some great photos. However, just as we were arriving it started to pour. We took refuge in a old church and hoped it would pass. It didn't. So we decided to head back down stopping at one more old building in route. Despite the rain, we had a great time and it was good practice driving the moto in those conditions.
Road Trip from Kampot to Kep
The next day we were back on the moto again for a road trip from Kampot to Kep, making a few stops along the way. If driving directly there it's about 19 miles but we decided on a slower, more scenic route. Much of our drive was on some lovely village roads. On a moto you can really take in the sights and smells of your surroundings - which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Our first stop was Phnom Chhnork, a Hindu cave temple built in the 7th century. The main chamber was huge. Joel opted to venture further. With two little girls from the nearby village as his guides, he headed into the dark, damp, narrow passages. I thought to myself, “no thanks” and happily headed back to the entrance to await their reemergence. Joel had a blast and tipped his guides well. Before hitting the road we tried to have a snack and were quickly joined by the monkeys who wanted some too. One of them even attempted to hijack our moto!
Kampot is world famous for pepper, so our next destination was the Sothy’s Pepper Farm. An, admittedly, ineffectual tour guide showed us around and we learned all about peppercorns. Their peppercorns are actually sorted by hand which I imagine would take a very long time!
From there we headed into Kep to meet a friend for coffee and lunch at the Kep Sailing Club. Before heading back to Kampot we made sure to take some photos of the famous giant Kep Crab.
That evening we reluctantly returned our little moto after a fun few days together and boarded a bus for Phnom Penh - a very different mode of transport!