Our next stop was the capital of Cambodia – Phnom Pehn which is certainly not my favourite city in the world and I am glad it was just a 1 night stop over. Situated at the confluence of three rivers, the mighty Mekong, the Bassac and the great Tonle Sap, what was once considered the 'Gem' of Indochina, however to us we just find it loud, noisy, dirty and with next to no side walks , impossible to walk around peacefully. We are staying in Rachana Hostel and for $17USD a night, we are pleasantly surprised but it is very worn down and looks practically abandoned.
Phnom Pehn is also home to the S21 Prison and the Killing fields home to the absolute horrendous history of the Khmer Rouge. For those who don’t know - The Khmer Rouge was a brutal regime that ruled Cambodia, under the leadership of Marxist dictator Pol Pot, from 1975 to 1979. Pol Pot's attempts to create a Cambodian “master race” through social engineering ultimately led to the deaths of more than 2 million people in the Southeast Asian country. It is one of the most outrageously upsetting places I have visited and would prefer not to write or talk about it.
Things we did enjoy about Phnom Pehn was exploring the board walk down by the river and then enjoying one of the most intense sunsets we have experienced from the picturesque ‘Le Moon’ Skybar. This was the highlight for me. From there we also dined in Kabbas – 10/10, great price, food and service was friendly. Phnom Pehn is drastically more expensive than Siem Reap and the surrounding towns and cities so be prepared.
Leaving the hot mess that is Phnom Pehn we started the 4-hour drive to Kampot which is where the fun began again! Known as the capital of riverside relaxation, this small sleepy city is wonderful for a few days of chilling out, eating, exploring the Pepper plantations and the salt fields. We all split up when we arrived so each of us were out doing different activities.
For me and Leo we wanted to kayak the Green Cathedral and it was on my list so of course I made it happen. We walked 5.5 km’s to ‘Champa Lodge,’ an idyllic lodge which rents kayaks and I had expected to pay $15USD for three hours. Upon arrival we were greeted by the owner and told we would probably manage the route in about 1 hour so we hopped in and started exploring. It was simply beautiful, easy to navigate and overall a really amazing kayaking trip…all for $5. We then swam in the river and tucked into homemade lemongrass tea before getting a tuk tuk back to town and stopped at Café Espresso for lunch – AMAZING! Please try this out especially if you have been traveling for a while and are sick to death of noodles and rice.
After an afternoon of chilling and staying out the midday heat we all made our way to our sunset boat ride to see the fireflies. For $5 pp you get a sunset cruise, 2 beers and a great boat where you can spread out of the top deck and really enjoy the last light of the day. This was worth it and should be on everyone’s to do list in Kampot.
Tomorrow we will head back to Phnom Pehn where we will spend 1 more night before making our way to Vietnam, it will also be where I spend my 30th! YIKES 😊