Colonial Kampot, Cambodia - 2013
Updated: Jan 4, 2021
After a few days in Cambodia, we began hearing about a quaint riverside town in the southern part of the country near the Vietnam border that was favoured among travellers: Kampot.
While the journey from Sihanoukville, Cambodia was about three hours - which didn’t seem arduous. Our trip was aboard a minibus scheduled to pick us up from The Beach Club Resort. Of course it was late but eventually our gear and bodies were packed into the already full vehicle and we were on our way.
Cambodia is desperately poor, still recovering from the ravages of the Pol Pot regime some thirty years before. The road was a horror, most villages along our route were at a subsistence level – stilt huts. A bit depressing but not definitely not dull.
We eventually landed in Kampot, a charming and somewhat tattered French colonial town set along the Kampot River under the Bokor and Elephant mountains. Tuk tuk drivers descended on us as we extracted ourselves from the van.
Even though we knew our hotel was close we hired one for only $1? Why walk in the heat with our bags? When we were deposited about a minute later at The Columns, an historic and charming boutique hotel nestled on a quiet street in the old town.
Haunted by the ghosts of French Indo-Chine, Kampot was as a tarnished gem that might soon be polished to its former brilliance. The streets were lined with moldy tattered buildings, but every now and then a splash of color – a building restored by an intrepid entrepreneur catering to travellers.
We spent only two nights but managed to explore much of the old town and colourful market.
We were gratified to enjoy numerous restaurants serving delicious cheap cuisine, often with a French flair like the small but cheerful Sisters II cafe, owned and operated by one of three amazing young local ladies who'd become ‘sisters’ to each other in an orphanage.