Kep's Got Crabs! - 2013
Updated: Jan 4
Continuing along the south coast of Cambodia, we took a mercifully short trip from Kampot, Cambodia to Kep. Although we enjoyed Kampot’s faded charms, it was dreadfully hot; staying at The Columns Hotel, despite its restored colonial beauty and comfortable up-to-date rooms, was a bit of a drag since it lacked one vital ingredient: a pool!
Our minibus picked us up right at our hotel; then spent an hour hunting down other travellers before departing Kampot, bounced over a largely unpaved dusty red trail through countless sad villages whose trees and huts were covered in road dust to eventually deposit us only 20 kms from the Vietnam border at Kep, a small town revered for its crab shacks ( wood restaurants on stilts) hanging over the Gulf of Thailand.
Our minibus trudged up a hill to our resort, The Kep Lodge, set a good piece from the main road, nestled against a protected jungle (at least for now in a land where corruption is the number one industry).
Kep was once a resort town for French Colonists fleeing Phnom Penh's heat and humidity to take in ocean breezes at mansions and estates. Vestiges remain, mostly as ruins. Many new resorts have sprouted up from the ashes of the old; Kep seemed poised to become a major destination once the Chinese discover its charms and abundant seafood.
(Steps by the powers must be taken as soon to deal with water pollution and plastic trash before it’s too late, however. We were dismayed by how dirty the ocean was along the shore.)
Kep Lodge turned out to be a good choice even though it was remote; we meandered down a dusty hill to the crab shacks for food, then catch a TukTuk back up for about three bucks; it was not a hardship.
Our blissful bungalow kept us cool as the weather was smoking hot, set within a garden and outdoor patio replete with hammock. The resort’s salt water pool, conveniently located next to an open air restaurant and bar for our daily breakfast (included in the price of a bungalow at $60/night) .
There’s not a lot to write about Kep; the town is more like a long boardwalk hugging the coast as it winds around a land head into town. It is favoured by Cambodians as a playground, an escape from their busy, noisy capital, Phnom Penh. Our trip coincided with Chinese New Year, celebrated in Cambodia even though they are not Chinese. Any excuse for a holiday I guess!
The crab shacks are the main event. The food we sampled was delicious, our favourite place was Kim Ly, because of its great service. The famous dish is the green pepper crab (nearby Kampot green pepper corns), so of course we had to order it. The crab was sweetly delicious, the pepper sauce sublime, the portions ample and inexpensive – $10 for a huge platter.