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Monday, November 15, 2010

Cambodia's Best Kep Secret

Kep was to be the beach experience we needed after the miserable sandy spit we found outside of Saigon last week – it did not disappoint.  As soon as we arrived, we watched the beginning of a near perfect sunset and dipped our feet in the water.  Rejuvenated, a van took us up into the mountains 2-3 kilometers where we were staying in an eco-resort called Jasmine Valley.  We were welcomed with fresh lime juices and then showed to our tree house bungalows, up a dirt path from the main-house of the resort.  From there we watched the end of the sunset and relaxed until dinner.  We munched on fish and chips and sipped star-fruit cider until we called it a night.  Jasmine Valley resort is truly one of the most spectacular places you could ever find yourself.  Everyone awoke the next morning to a stunning sunrise over the water, which was coupled with an orchestra of early morning sounds.  A chorus of animal calls started as early as 5:30 AM.  The gibbons, geckos, cicadas, and various other creatures took turns serenading us as the sun rose higher in the sky.

Unfortunately for us the price wasn’t right and we were only going to be able to stay there for one night.  The Jasmine Valley Eco-Resort was founded 18 months ago by one of Jed’s friends - so we had to check it out.  The next 2 nights were spent at more modest accommodations in a guesthouse a literal stone’s throw from the water’s edge.  After packing up and heading down from the mountains towards the beach the four of us (Gabe, Miles, Scott, Jordan) decided to trek to the beach with nothing but a frisbee.  While the town of Kep is largely undiscovered by backpackers and tourists it is well known by the Khmer.  They descend upon the beautiful beaches by the masses for the weekend.  The second we got to the beach we were instantly swarmed by about forty 10-13 year old Cambodian boys.  All of them fascinated by the disc we were tossing about wanted to practice the only lines of English they knew: How are you and what is your name?  It was not long before we were all playing with the frisbee and the rascals were literally crawling all over us – and screaming our names at the top of their little lungs.  The kids could not get enough of us as we engaged in an epic splash fight which ended in the muppets mauling us as we tossed them several feet in the air to a watery demise.  It was a truly unbelievable experience.  Apparently there is something humanly universal about water fights.  Playing with the kids made everyone’s day and we are sure they felt similar.  We are extremely sorry we could not capture any video of the interaction but our cameras were not readily available.  That night we met up with Jed’s inlaws, his wife Theary and their 3 month old baby girl Priya.  She is adorable.  We drove to the nearby town of Kampot via tuk tuk (a motorcycle with a 4 person carriage attached) and had wonderful steaks doused in a pepper sauce – made of the legendary green peppercorns of southern Cambodia.

The next day we took a boat to Rabbit Island.  Not much to say here other than it is a picturesque little island with a small beach lined with hammocks, massage huts, and crab shacks.  We lounged on the beach with Jed, his wife and her family, his father, and obviously Scott and Jordan.  Everyone was in super relaxation mode.  For lunch, we devoured heaping portions of fried noodles and rice accompanied by some of the best shrimp and crab around.  We took a boat back in the early afternoon and then booked a bus ticket to Siem Reap for 7:30 AM the next morning. 

This was written in Kep and being posted now from our new home for the next few months - Siem Reap  - which will be better introduced shortly.

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