To the sea

We spent the weekend partially on the road, a hair-rising trip, and partially relaxing at a lovely lodge near Kaeb (Kep or Kip) Beach on the southern coast of Cambodia very close to the Vietnam border. It was Chinese New Year Weekend and so we saw accidents – these happen here, people say with shrug. I suppose you can say that as long as the victims aren’t related to you. We saw one nasty accident on the way out and one on our return.

Because of the Chinese New Year long weekend all the busses were booked, forcing us to take a pricey but comfortable taxi. “Special price,” meant 10 dollars more than usual.

Three hours after our departure from Phnom Penh we arrived at a lovely little lodge with an infinity pool presided over by a life size Buddha. As it was lunchtime we headed out to the famous crab market with its many restaurants serving up the seafood that was sold right next door, not just crabs.

Our innkeepers had told us their guests rated the restaurant named ‘The Democrat’ very highly and so that is where we sat down for lunch. We were seated by the water front on a rickety pier next to an older American couple (volunteer teachers) who asked us promptly whether we were democrats (they were) and gave us a thumbs up when we replied with a yes. The bamboo walls were decorated with pictures of democratic US presidents. They were quite up to date with Obama’s iconic Change poster gracing the walls.

I spent the afternoon agonizing about how to relax before a busy week. I can’t simply turn a switch, despite Axel’s attempts to find my reset button. I have found during our summer holidays in Maine that it takes me a week to unwind, hence our decision to take two weeks in a row.

On Sunday we visited a green pepper farm and were instructed by a Spanish volunteer how peppers are grown, harvested and processed. It is a very labor intensive process that explained the high cost of green pepper when we buy it in our local store.  The Kampot Pepper is actually an ‘appellation controlee,’ something you don’t see very often in developing countries. I am sure the French had something to do with this. The pepper farm also was full of fruit trees with many kinds I have only eaten but never seen on a tree: rambutan, jackfruit, durrian, mangosteen aside from the more familiar mangos and papayas.

The trip home was less comfortable and 20 dollars cheaper, another hair-rising ride. Whatever state of relaxation I had reached by our departure was gone when we arrived back at the hotel in Phnom Penh.

As I headed into a busy week Axel got ready for another venture and took the bus to Batambang in the northwest, close to the Thai border, a 7 hour bus ride away.

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