OK, after a combination of short stops, no Internet, and our WordPress program malfunctioning, we’ve been offline for awhile. But all is good, we’re still healthy, and we’re back online. Here’s the quick story: from our last real post in Kampot we went a little further southeast to Kep, where we languished for a couple of days at a beautiful resort not doing much of anything except reading at the pool and going into the local crab market to eat.
Mark enjoying calamari with Kampot pepper at the crab market in Kep
The restaurants at the crab market were right on the seashore. This was pretty glorious…
From there it was north to Phnom Penh for a couple days of errands, including picking up my new Kindle that had been shipped to the same hotel we stayed at a couple weeks earlier. I’m in heaven with a reader that actually works. (If you’re wondering, I’ve gotten stuck in the early 20th century: first I read Scott Lawrence’s new Lawrence in Arabia, then Margaret MacMillan’s history of the lead up to The Great War, The War that Ended Peace, and now I’m in Scott Berg’s biography of Woodrow Wilson, titled, interestingly, Wilson. And that still doesn’t get to Doris Kearns Goodwin’s new book about Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. I may never get out of those couple of decades.)
We had a drink in Kompong Chom at a bar called Chaplin’s that had his tribute to … Cassius Clay? Wait, what century is this again?
From Phnom Penh it was north to Kompong Cham, a town on the Mekong River, where we stayed in a hotel with the biggest, heaviest wooden furniture you’ve ever seen, before moving further north to Kratie (pronounced kra-cheh), which is one of the most memorable places I’ve ever been. We stayed at an isolated lodge on an island in the Mekong River, surrounded by a genuinely local village. It was about as far off the beaten path as you could ever imagine. So far off, in fact, that the Internet hasn’t found it yet!
Street scene in Kompong Chom
Fashion in Kompong Chom
Our lodge on an island in the Mekong River. We weren’t roughing it, but it was isolated and had no electricity during the daylight hours.
This was the scene just a couple hundred yards from our hotel. As I said, it was remote. One morning I walked just a little past here to find a spot along the river to spread a towel out to lay down and read. Heaven.
This was part of my morning run – pretty much the definition of off the beaten path.
This was how we moved back and forth between the island and the mainland. Most people survive most of the trips…
One of the highlights of Kratie is to go out on the Mekong to see the Irrawaddy dolphins, an endangered river dolphin. We saw dolphins – or more precisely, we saw some fins breaking the surface, but the highlight was this boatful of Buddhist monks with a storm brewing behind them. The storm came in hard and fast, so we just tied up to some bushes in mid-river and waited it out. Apparently rainstorms are pretty common in this part of the world.
Too soon, it’s time to leave the island. That’s our luggage, “stored” for the 15-minute ride across the Mekong.
Those were all pretty short stays – a day or two in each – but now we’ve landed in Banlung, up in the northeast corner of Cambodia, for four days; we’ll definitely post pictures from here tomorrow. Though we’ve been loving Cambodia, this may be our last stop in Cambodia, as we’re now nearing the border of Laos. The travelers we’ve met coming south have loved Laos, so we’re pretty excited about getting up there.