Kep

January 3, 2014

Yesterday we got up early and rented a motorbike from our guest house ($5 for the entire day) to go into Kep. First, we rode into Kampot to grab some breakfast. Zach really wanted to eat at a cool place we’d read about, Espresso Cafe, but they weren’t ready to open yet so we grabbed a bowl of ka tieu, a Cambodian beef noodle soup. It was excellent and very filling.

Zach says, "How do you start this thing?"

Zach says, “How do you start this thing?”

Getting gas on the side of the road

Getting gas on the side of the road

gasoline bottles

gasoline bottles

delicious bowl of ka tieu for breakfast

delicious bowl of ka tieu for breakfast

on the road to Kep

on the road to Kep

Kep is a sleepy coastal town which used to be a popular destination for the French to escape Phnom Penh. After the French left, Cambodia’s elite continued the tradition. It was once thought that it could be the French Riviera of Southeast Asia. But that never happened. When the Khmer Rouge gained power Kep was abandoned and the seaside villas were evacuated and eventually looted. We read that all of the villas were purchased in the 1990s by speculators but only a few have been restored to their former glory. Many of the villas we saw whispered faint memories of a glamorous past but their current inhabitants (squatters & monkeys) kept them firmly rooted in the present. It will be interesting to see which direction Kep moves in the future. Hopefully it can hold onto its past while also celebrating the future. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe rode around Kep and discovered a delightful coffee shop run by an American family – Kep Coffee Shop. They had real coffee and cake! I don’t think I truly realized how much I missed cake with frosting until I had a slice of their chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. Mmmmm! (I’m still dreaming of it…) We really enjoyed talking with Brian and Savvy about their time in Cambodia and our time in Korea. It was really wonderful being able to chat with them. Their goal is to establish a self-sustaining business that can employ and provide a safe space for Cambodian women. We wish them all the best in their efforts; it’s such an important project. So, if you’re in Kep make sure you stop by and pay them a visit!

Such an adorable coffee shop

Such an adorable coffee shop

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe left Kep Coffee to drive around Kep National Park. Brian told us how to go in the back entrance and somehow we found it! The park is extremely lush and peaceful. There are several hiking trails that we would have taken advantage of if we had been in town for a longer period. We did feel a little odd driving through the park on our motorbike since everyone else we saw was walking… I got off the bike and walked half the way while Zach drove. When we left there was an older man beginning the loop in a tuk tuk, so I guess it was alright.

Lovely view from the park's main road

Lovely view from the park’s main road

It was a very shady drive

It was a very shady drive

A nice view of the bay

A nice view of the bay

Zach leaving me in the dust

Zach leaving me in the dust

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe met up at Led Zep, a small cafe located in the park with a gorgeous view of the ocean. It was the perfect place to grab a snack and a beer and read a little.

Led Zep

Led Zep

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter we left the park we cruised around for a while on the coast. We spotted some monkeys and stopped to take their photo but they started hissing at us!! I was only able to snap one shot. Then we ended up getting a hammock on the beach and had some black pepper shrimp. It was really delicious and a nice way to pass the time.

This was the papa monkey and he wasn't having it

This monkey was not having it

stud

stud

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kep Kep Clean, haha

Kep Kep Clean, haha

Just hangin'

Just hangin’

black pepper shrimp

black pepper shrimp

We had to run back by Kep Coffee before we left to have some chocolate chunk cookies and a little more coffee. We sat outside for a while talking with Savvy. It was really nice being able to find a new place and chat with the owners – I really miss that about the US. Anyhow, then we rode off into the sunset and back into Kampot for a quick meal before retiring at Les Manguiers.

My kitty friend at Kep Coffee

My kitty friend at Kep Coffee

hammocks along the shore

hammocks along the shore

sunset

sunset

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hasta la vista

hasta la vista

 

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