Day 52: Kep, crabs & jungles
Claire: Kep wasn't actually on our radar a few weeks back but the beauty of our travels means we can change plan at any time. So we did. We've booked 2 nights here and 2 nights in neighbouring Kampot (another we snook on the list).
Known as a seaside retreat for the French elite in the early 1900's and wealthy Cambodians in the 60s, Kep has had a bit of a decadent past. With Cambodia's turbulent history, the ruined villas and overgrown jungles meant it was long forgotten on the tourist trail but is making a slow and steady comeback. Today it's a sleepy seaside town trying to revive itself with the opening of boutique hotels, national parks and a push for eco tourism. And, well, it tempted us alright!
Most of the locals here are fishermen and crab is the region's speciality. Each night you can see the fishing boats twinkling on the horizon, like some kind of rave in the sea, and in the morning their wives sell at market. Our hotel is just a few minutes away so we strolled down to watch the locals at work. It was an entertaining watch!
Before the sun got too high we ventured into the Kep National Park. Just a $1 entry fee and it felt like we had the whole park to ourselves (bar a couple of monkeys!) . Looping round the mountain, the trek is about 5miles and provided some breathtaking scenery. Towards the latter part of the route we were facing the sun and it was blistering heat with no escape! Certainly a good bit of exercise anyway.
As we stroll back through the town on the coastal path towards our hotel we see a few families near the beach but nowhere near as atmospheric as it was yesterday. The colourful mats are still laid out on the pavements and locals swing in hammocks escaping the midday sun. No monkeys today either. I really missed a photo opportunity there!
Lots of walking means lots of eating! So tonight we went to one of the wooden shack restaurants overlooking the sea to sample some crab. The meat itself was super tasty but it was a right ol' faff trying to get any of it out the shell, I gave up after about 20 minutes. I'm not too sure the little creatures life was worth that sacrifice and I later read the over-fishing of crabs is decimating stocks and contributing to destruction of nearby coral reefs, so I feel pretty guilty about that now too. Sorry Mr Crab!
Gav's day 52 takeaway:
- Kep is slow and sleepy, like me.