Monday 27 June 2022

Kampot - 16 years in Asia.

BinYenh Guesthouse
Was lucky to get the first week of May off, so spent it back in Mui Ne. Magical. Same room. Same routine. Rinse and repeat. Daily 9km walks along a NATO standard tropical beach - palm trees and strikingly blue sea. Destination: Teen Cafe and its prominent viewpoint.

Teen cafe
Was digesting BBQd pork at Matador restaurant one evening, watching rats scurry across the rocks below as waves crashed in - resilient little bastards - when my mind drifted to Irish Tom, 2009 and Trang. He died in 2017 and I was overcome by a sudden sense of pain and loss. Willing the universe to allow him back, just for a night, I'll even break my three year dry spell. I promise. Then you can take him back to eternal non-existence. Whoever you are?

Urban colleagues
This got me thinking about time again. We're only here for a blip. Tom snatched away without warning. Why does the time in MuiNe pass so quickly? The days tick by like hours. Always feels like I've just stepped off the bus when I'm getting back on the fecker. Pleasurable to see the Saigon sprawl in the rearview mirror yet painful to see it encroaching again. A reminder of the dualistic nature of the universe - can't have quiet without loud, hot without cold and rural without urban.

I'm an American
Blackpool Michael
Four more weeks of *EFI rat race and we were allowed off the leash to sniff some grass - for eight weeks. Last year we were locked in our shitbox rooms and left to go hungry because of the coof.

*EFI = Every Fecking Inch. Saigon has 15M people shoehorned into a space for 5M people. As a result there isn't an inch to spare. Everything is tiny and EFI is fought over. Like worms in a bucket. There are ZERO green spaces. Not a single park to kick a football around. Nowhere to relax. Noise, horns, engines, no pavements, angle grinders, drills and a million people, everywhere, all the time. Tower block pods as far as the eye can see in every direction. No peace, ever. Ughh. I'm an AWOL Geordie, get me out of here!

Anyhow, with memories of army-starvation-lockdowns fading, I boarded a tin pot propeller plane for the one hour flight to Phnom Penh. I stayed in the same place as when I left Battambang two years back. Was served a full English by the same lass (in impossibly tight jeans) at Big Easy on st172. Felt good to be back in Cambo - it has a completely different vibe to Vietnam - more sabai if you will.

The next day was a jaw-dropping trip down Cambodia's best road. A mere 3hrs to Kampot. I couldn't believe it. The whole thing is tarmacked - properly - even to the edges. Incredible. I was expecting a 6hr marathon for the 95 mile journey. Quelle surprise.

View from the door
Strange Dave (of Battambang fame) sourced a $120/month bungalow set in luscious gardens 4km out of town. He's a good lad. It's perfect - 1km down a ridiculous dirt road in the boonies. Rice fields and palm trees. More buffalos than cars. There's nowt better than relaxing in the garden with Mr. Lee (owner) and Ms. Brush (sweeper).

The next order of business was a second hand Mary. $60. Jerb done. Blue - the same colour as the beast of Battambang. Must've already racked up 100km in the first few days. Nowt as solid as an old Mary. (named after Mary Poppins).

It's a 5km cycle to KH Gym twice a week. $1.25 gets you a 1.5L bottle of water and the use of basic equipment. I'd lost a lot of strength in Saigon - the sore muscles were brutal after the first session - even with significantly reduced weight. The same 7 exercises twice a week: 1. Bench Press. 2. Shoulder press. 3. Deadlifts. 4. Squats. 5. Pull ups. 6. Dips. 7, Inclined sit ups. About an hour. Jerb done. Still a 70kg skinny bastard - but a stronger, fitter, more toned skinny bastard.

What else? Well, I like eating English scran at Jim & Lily's - their homemade Cornish pasties are a blast from my Plymouth past (where they're known as Oggies). I spend way too much time sat on concrete seats by the riverside enjoying not being in Saigon.

Andy and Dave
There's a small coffee place near a lotus pond with levels of sabai that should be illegal. It's a good place to try and forget about the horrific collapse of my portfolio since the last post. Suffice to say the net worth is dramatically lower these days and the monthly budget has been trimmed as a result.

Relaxing in a hammock at the front door. I've ridden a scooter up Bokor Hill and to Kep Beach. Was good to tackle the Bokor twisties  - hadn't ridden a motorbike since Chiang Mai 3 years ago - and that was a CBR500. Good crack.

$1.25 second hand shirt
$0.50 women's shades
Kampot feels more developed than Battambang. Less turd world if you will. There are more Barang here as a result. In fact a handful of the Battambang Barang have moved here - must be to enjoy basking in the June heat.

Dreading the return to Saigon at the end of July. Will cross that bridge when we get to it. Hard to believe this journey started 16 years ago - 4 World Cup cycles. I had no idea where I was going or what I would do. There's a lot worse places than Kampot to have ended up. That's for sure.

Hello = Sue S'dai
How much? = Ket loy?
16,000reil = Muoy Meun Bram Muoy Boan Riel


  1. Love Kampot. Don't miss the pepper plantation, it's quite interesting. Salt museum is also nice.

  2. 16 years is a long time. Has Asia changed since you moved there? Could you do it all again?

    Pretty cool that you can spend another 16 years and only be ordinary retirement age at 65 :-)

  3. Those glasses are they Aviator ones? Oh just noticed they ARE women's.

  4. Time for an update matey.