Cambodia was a good training ground for anyone who wants to venture into international development work back then. I started mine in early 2000 I Signed for Six-Months, and Then I Stayed for Six-Years in Cambodia, but I don’t know now. The last two times I visited I almost didn’t recognize the country, so much progress had happened, and of course, I was happy.
The last time I visited the country was in 2015 it was so much different than when I left in 2006 and returned again in 2008 except for the capital Phnom Penh, it has always been crazy but with less traffic.
This time, I made sure that I don’t stay long in Phnom Penh, I was escaping the hustle and bustle of the city. I just wanted peace and quiet, away from the crowd, close to nature but not too far away from the civilization.
I was trying to get away from the stresses brought on by straight three months work during my time in Nepal. The initial fears of aftershocks to living in small tents for almost a month and living in a high rise (well only the 3rd floor) when you don’t know when the next shake will be. I was escaping that to center myself again before going back to it one last time.
So I decided to be somewhere different from what I remember — I went to Kep.
The province is close to the beach that was developing fast but not as fast as its neighboring provinces of Kampot and Sihanouk Ville. Back in the days, we cannot just go there without encountering danger signs. Most parts of the region were closed off because of the landmines. Kep was not a real province until 2008, it was still part of Kampot, and the safest place to visit back then was the beach side of the province.
So to be safe, I stayed not along the beach but close. When you enter Kep proper, just after the roundabout before turning to the right, I turned left and gone up a little uphill where Vanna Hill Resort was located. It’s away from the main road and away from the crowd but close enough to not be afraid to return late in the night from watching the sunset and enjoying a meal along the beach … alone.
September – October was off season I am the only guest in the whole resort hotel. I rented the double cottage facing the sea and every day for the whole time I was there I wake up to see the sunrise and in my hammock to watch the sunset. I felt like I own it or at least I can pretend ha! ha!
I enjoyed every amenities of the resort and really unwind. I am in the swimming pool in the morning and go around the town in my rented tuk-tuk in the afternoon.
When I am not eating outside, I can ask the kitchen to whip up something delicious for me. Traditional Cambodian food that I missed like Fish Amok and Cambodian Curry with seafood instead of the traditional chicken. But beware it can be pricey to order something for one, and those dishes are actually eaten with a company.
But no trip to the beach in Cambodia without the tradition of buying your fresh seafood in the market, having it cooked and enjoying them while watching people and again the sunset.
The beachfront along Kep was so much different from what I remembered back in the days. Gone are the dirt road, dusty and potholed. It was replaced by wide asphalt road that connects directly to the highway.
There were also big hotels and boutique hotels, and some that have seen better days along the beachfront that caters to just about anybody who wants to spend a weekend in Kep.
I was tempted to visit and spend the night in the Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island), but since it’s low tourist season there will be no one there with me, and the locals usually go home to the mainland in the evening,
My trip to Kep gave me the rest and recuperation I needed to go back to Nepal and finish off my mission and return home in time for the holidays.
- Get the van to Kep and arrange to drop you off your hotel. I took the bus going home, but we had a breakdown, and I arrived very late than my original plan.
- Off peak season is always cheap and you can choose a different room than what you booked if you didn’t like it (at no cost for me but for you maybe with a little bit extra).
- Eating outside is also cheaper than having meals prepared for you in the hotel unless you come in big groups.
- Solo travel is always fun to do but be always on the side of caution. Book transport with the hotel at least they know the driver, and they speak English.
- Carry small bills with you all the time – in local currency and in dollars.
- Always smile, Cambodians are such friendly people.