Hill station blues (with apologies)

Kampot Travel Blog

 › entry 49 of 100 › view all entries

To Kampot, in a packed minibus with a motorbike strapped to the back. Spent half of the two-hour run trying to explain to an English-speaking Khmer girl why I didn't want to throw my empty coke can out of the window. Bad Cambodian pop music played on the radio. The trip cost me three dollars; the locals on the bus had paid less than a tenth of that.

Took a dingy, mucky room in a recommended guesthouse; the proprietor told me the cleaners would be round to clean it up but they never came. (In accidental revenge, I forgot to hand in my key when I checked out.) I did nothing with that day but sit on the internet and listen to the horrendous sounds of a wedding reception across the street. Half of the town seemed to be invited, and the other half we hanging round outside peering in. Fended off moto drivers as I walked back to my hotel room after dark. When I refused a lift, they offered me drugs; when I refused drugs they tried to temp me with a "young young" Vietnamese prostitute. This is is as much as I saw of the nastier end of the south-east Asian sex trade, and I'm glad I didn't see more.

The next day was better: a trip to the ruined hill station built by French colonials a hundred years or so ago. Two hours in the back of a jeep up a road that barely deserved the name: it was about fifty percent pothole and made for a very bumpy trip. Then a trek through dry green vegetation to get to the old casino, hotel and Catholic church. Everything had been built, abandoned, rebuilt and abandoned again when the Khmer Rouge came to power in the seventies; opposing troops had spent months holed up in the church and the casino, firing shells at one another. The walls were covered in lichen and graffiti. Below us, jungle stretched into thick grey mist: on a clear day you can see to the coast and the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc but this wasn't a clear day. Fog drifted ethereally through the buildings. We bounced back down the road to town and I left the next morning.

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photo by: asturjimmy