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Christmas in Kampot!

There's no place like home...

sunny 30 °C

We knew we wanted to be near the coast for Xmas and new year so we started the journey back down south, breaking it up with an over night stop in Phnom Penh to see The Hobbit! As luck would have it the one night we were in town was its release date in Cambodia, perfect timing!

New year was going to be on Otres Beach and as we knew that area was really booked up we decided to chill out in the riverside town of Kampot over Xmas first. We had been given a recommendation of a place to stay right on the river and so headed there hoping there would be a room free, but it was fully booked! This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as they directed us next door to 'Bungalow Kampot River' and we got a great bungalow there for $6 a night. This turned out to be our 'holiday from travelling' as we decided to stay here for a week to recharge the batteries and celebrate Christmas.

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The bar/hangout area was on stilts out over the river complete with diving board and floating pontoon so you could jump straight into the water to cool off.

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Only problem is that if you are a muppet like I am you may knock your sunglasses off into the water and lose them to the murky depths. Being a tidal river the flow is constantly changing stirring up the sediment and so visibility under the water is really poor. A bit disconcerting not being able to see what else might be down there! Being prescription sunglasses it was a bit stressful losing them but after some helpful emails home (thanks Dad) I soon had my prescription and found a local opticians who made me some new ones in 24 hours for only $35! Bargain!

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Our first night it was meant to be the end of the world according to the Mayan predictions and so we decided to go to the end of the world party at Bodhis, another guesthouse a couple doors down the river. It was great fun and fireworks were set off over the river. At one point there was a power cut and for a few moments you could feel the anxiety in the room...was this actually the end of the world....but soon enough the lights were on, the music was blaring and dancing resumed. Walking down to the deck area on stilts over the river Dan did not see a gap and disappeared between the slats into the river. Fortunately he was ok other than a bang to his leg and the embarrassment of everyone stopping and looking after hearing the splash and taking photos as he emerged! Unfortunately I didn't have our camera, it would have been a good pic!

Most of our days were spent relaxing by the river, reading, sleeping, blogging, cycling, exploring the town (home to the giant durian fruit roundabout) etc...

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One day we decided to rent a moto and explore Bokor National Park.

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There is a road that snakes its way up Bokor mountain to the hill station at the top which is being redeveloped into a huge resort.

This sign sums the road up...

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It was great fun if not a little hair raising at times going round all the hairpin bends but the views along the way were amazing and on a good day you can see the Gulf of Thailand.

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This is the moment a pesky monkey scared me by jumping behind me out of nowhere!

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At the top is the old hotel/casino called the Bokor Palace. Apparently people used to throw themselves off the top if they had had a bad night gambling! This and the rest of the resort/hill station were abandoned in 1970s when the Khmer Rouge came into the area creating a ghost town. It was a great building to walk around as it is completely empty and you could imagine how grand it had once been.

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That night we had our first huge storm since we have been travelling and the first rain we had seen since leaving China! It was really dramatic with rain splashing up from the water and booming thunder. There was a mad rush to move all the chairs and cushions away from the waters edge as the rain was blown in and we huddled by the bar and watched the lightning over the river.

We were struggling to find the festive spirit in Kampot although if you looked hard you saw the occassional sign it was approaching.

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We asked around town if there was anything going on and found out that a traditional Xmas dinner was happening on Xmas eve! At $20 each it was a bit expensive but we rationalised that at home we would probably be spending the same on an Xmas dinner out and as we were missing home some traditional Xmas grub was exactly what we needed! And it didn't disappoint! Turkey, lamb, pumpkin squash, stuffing = yum. Oh and cold Chenin Blanc :)

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The moon was amazing too and we could see all the craters, a great night!

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Xmas day was spent catching up with friends and family and it was great to Skype home and see everyone :) Miss you all!

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Xmas night was spent celebrating at Madis bar with some great live music that had the whole place dancing.

We ve met quite a few interesting characters here but staying for a week in one place you see and hear alot and think one of the things we ve realised is that we wouldn't want to live this expat lifestyle. No matter where you are in the world your baggage follows you it seems and boy do these guys like to talk about their woes over and over again!

So don't worry folks we ll be coming home at some point :)

Hope you all had fab Xmas!

Sxxx

Posted by doyledan 04:09 Archived in Cambodia

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