This one time…. at Kampot.
Back in town for a few days, NY NY will be our resting place, our sanctuary for the next ten days.
It’s now late July and the wet season is well and truly on its way. The afternoon thunder storms are something we factor in as a matter of cause. A large $3 umbrella we picked up from the nearby shopping centre has become an inclusion to our must have items we take each time we leave the hotel.
The riverside eateries have become a nightly ritual for the cook and I. We visit many of our old favourites but also try to include a lot of the restaurants that have eluded us in the past. Places such as La Java Bleue, Ta Oav (TA Eou) and Veronica's Kitchen are some that come immediately to mind. (Do pop in and say hello to Romdoul at Veronica’s)
The cook would take ideas or in some cases give some new ideas to old friends.
One other you must try if you’re up near The Salt Carriers Monument.
The Magic Sponge has a great breakfast and even better staff, go and see for yourself.
Dodgy Bloody Australians.
This would be the description Christian, the owner of the Rusty Keyhole would use in jest the night I had to return to his restaurant with my tail between my legs having forgotten to pay the bill.
I would explain to Christian over the years this had become something of a tradition with us and he shouldn’t think himself anything special.
This is something Paul down at the Frangipani would bare witness to. We had often got up and left without paying the bill at his establishment only to return the next night to settle the score.
Only this time the cook would remind me of the oversight the moment we walked into our room back at NY NY. So with my trusty umbrella and a box of chocolates in hand, I would be the one elected to return and try to redeem our good name. (OK! the chocolates, you’ve heard the expression greasing the wheel. I think the cook looks at them as being lubricant in a box)
Anyway remember, I have my tail between my legs, ten dollars in one hand, a box of chocolates in the other. Approaching the Rusty Keyhole and just rounding the corner of the old market the first thing I notice are the womenfolk standing in the doorway. To me they looked like they were scouting the walkways for something, for someone, it didn’t take much of an imagination to workout what or who.
They knew this criminal would return to the scene sooner or later.
My gaze now directed to the ground in front, my wrists crossed and lowered to my waist.
I could hear them laughing when they realized I had given up without a fight.
Is That Who I Think It Is?
One night while sitting in the Keyhole and enjoying a happy hour beer or two, the cook noticed on the other side of the road a herd of tuk-tuk drivers congregating around the steps of the old night club. She had taken note of one in particular; he had cut from the herd and was now making his way to a communal water tap that was located a short distance away from the steps.
Is that who I think it is? Is that Darartikar?
We hadn’t laid eyes on Darra for around three years now. The cook had just about forgiven him for taking us on that walk to a waterfall once before, but also not forgotten him for it.
With the silhouette of his soccer ball like head against the reflections of a setting sun on the river behind I couldn’t be sure. “Stay here I’ll be back” I said before crossing the road looking for conformation. There crouching in the bushes filling the water container that would later be used to cool the fins of his motorcycle was Darra. He was sporting a pair of sunglasses that looked as though some poor little twelve year old barang female had misplaced (think musk pink with flowers all over)
Ngov Heng Fish Sauce Kampot.
Over the next few days we had Darra take us to several interesting places, places like the fish sauce factory over behind the Wat the cook would bring home a box of the two year old fermented fish sauce, they have a tour of the factory around two in the afternoon if you’re interested.
My interest was in taking a Norry out of the old Kampot train station. I put this request to Darra, he said it could be done for a price.
After a few phone calls we were to return the next day.
I’m pretty sure Mr Toll knew nothing of this enterprise. I was assured that it could be done if the cook and I were to take along a couple of dead presidents for the ride.
As it turned out the managers Norry had given up the ghost sometime ago, they did have a little three person shunting loco but this was in Sihanouk Ville for a few days, oh well! maybe Battambang.
Off to the pepper farm with Darra. The road had turned to soup, thick brown soup the type that coated every thing it comes in contact with. Again this would stop any thought of a trip to Kep in the near future. The trip is still a possibility if you take a cab or the bus just take the Phnom Penh bus and get off in Kep, same for the way back, I did ask the price and was told it would cost $2 each way.
Starling Farm out near Secret Lake would be where the cook would replenish her supply of the black gold.
Of cause this would not go without incident after all we were with Darra. The cook and I would often question the wisdom in his belief of refueling his tuk-tuk one liter at a time, a practice he would assure us, made calculating mileage a more, accurate science.
On the way back from the farm we were lucky enough to past two young people herding cattle along the side of the lake. A boy around fifteen years old was doubling a young girl that looked to be about seven on a pushbike.
This is where science would take control. Apparently the distance a 1.25 litre bottle of fuel will take you, is approximately 0.85 of the distance required.
We stand there and watch Darra cycle off into the distance on a bike he had just commandeered from the young boy with a promise of compensation, the girl cried, she didn’t want to walk and some crazy with a pink pair of sunnies just took their bike.
I took some lovely pictures of the lake and the kids trying to round up a few strays.
It wasn’t long before over the crest of the hill road the guy that got us into this but this time as our saviour, he was now going to get us out of this.
Back to the bottle shop / petrol station for a refund on the empty bottle and off to Kampot.
Ok! Darartikar “it’s time to try to redeem yourself” I say. We would like to have lunch, something authentic for the area, something tasty, this should include a drink, it will be my shout and it should cost no more than $5.
We sat in a bamboo and grass hut that hung over the river, we ate some of the best fried rice with prawns in Kampot and enjoyed a beer and talked about things and stuff. (redemption)
The next day we would head towards Sihanouk Ville turning off towards the Coral Bay Resort (Nataya) but not before insisting the service station attendant should put another $5 worth of fuel into the tank while Darra was emptying his.
We had visions of him later that night milking the tank in an attempt to stop the fuel from evaporating.
This was a nice drive out through the countryside and along a narrow road looking at the surrounding rural housing and the people going about their everyday chores.
We were saddened by what seems to be the latest fad in Cambodia. During the elections the supporters of each party would receive a “free lunch” the tell tail signs of a roadside littered with the discarded Styrofoam containers, evidence of such locations.
We would return to Phnom Penh on the same transport we had arrived on, Giant Ibis.
Stay in the same hotel, The Paragon, before taking a Capitol Bus onto Battambang, we would stay in town and at The Seng Hout Hotel for the next six days, but that’s another story.
This one time…..@Battambong