South of Phnom Penh, near the coast, with luscious scenery and rolling hills it seemed like the perfect option to both relax and trek through the countryside.
We arrived at night and were bombarded with the usual Tuk Tuk harassers, attempted to pick the least aggressive and headed out into the night towards our guesthouse. Little did we know how remote it would be! The drive there was literally PITCH black and extremely bumpy, driving down country lanes with no lights and no other traffic. Slightly nerve wracking but luckily short lived. We pulled up into paradise, in the form of Bodhi Villa. Quaint, relaxed, picturesque and cozy we settled right in to our *Ahem* Garden Bungalow, found our friends from Phnom Penh who were also staying there, and proceeded to have a lovely meal complete with wine and cheese.
Soon enough we had amassed a lively group; 5 girls and 6 boys: 4 English, 3 Dutch, 2 Canadian, 1 Irish and 1 Scottish. Its hard not to talk to the other travellers in such a remote intimate setting and soon enough we were cracking jokes, doing shots and planning our next days activities: Motorcycling.
The group headed out in the morning, got our bikes, and set off to the countryside. As a novice driver I didn’t feel comfortable driving one myself so was quite happy to be a passenger. We drove through windy roads spiralling up into the majestic mountainside, heading for a well known waterfall nearby.
Coasting along the smooth roads elevated over the open ocean and vast forestry, with the wind in our faces and the sun on our backs, it was pure bliss. The waterfall was lovely and a welcome break and we headed back to the hostel late that afternoon tired and happy, ready to indulge in a delicious dinner.
Card games, singalongs, drinking games ensued with everyone on highs from the day and enjoying great conversation and laughs. We planned for the next days destination on the bikes: this time caves and countryside.
This days driving was a little different and certainly more difficult. We headed first towards a remotely located pepper plantation, a short but interesting visit, and then attempted to make our way to the caves without getting lost: a fail but it ultimately just fueled the adventure.
We drove along bumpy and dusty dirt roads, continuously swerving to avoid potholes and narrowly avoiding large trucks that seemed to be attempting to drive us clean off the road.
We finally located the small side street that led us to the caves, parked our bikes by a small house and let the local children lead the way.
The cave they led us to was long, narrow, ridden with bats,and nearly impassable, especially since the climate of the current wet season. Nevertheless the small sprightly kids jumped right in, maneuvered easily through cracks and over small cliffs and convinced us we could do the same. After a long, arduous and dangerous process we emerged thought the cave safely and unscathed; it must have been some form of miracle looking back as that DEFINITELY would not have been classified as a tourist attraction back home!
We sped a bit back to the hostel to make it in time for a quick bite before boarding our prebooked sunset boat cruise. We brought our swimsuits, liquor, a guitar; what could possibly result but good times? Well the good times continued well on into the night, resulting in my sleeping for a total of 2 hours before boarding a bus the next morning. I crawled aboard and slept through the entire 8hr journey: win!
All in all I met some great people and that is what always makes all the difference. The location was gorgeous, the hostel (Bodhi Villa – Stay There!) was utopian and the unexpected visit all contributed to the appeal: I will always remember and cherish my wonderful time in Kampot.