After feeling like we’d been on the go, pretty much since we got here a relaxing weekend was very much in order for Zac and I.
I’d started to come down with whatever mystery bug he’d so kindly decided to gift me and the relentless coughing and increasing headache was getting to be a pain in the arse.
At the intern dinner on Thursday it was clear that everyone was starting to feel it after 4 weeks ‘on the go’.
After having such a wonderful weekend in Kampot a few weeks ago, we thought we’d sneak off to Kep (a half hour moto ride from Kampot) to mark the half way point of our internship.
As is often the case for Zac and I, our relaxing weekend didn’t exactly go to plan…
We’d found a bus that went directly to Kep, and in hindsight, we’d have been better off getting the Giant Ibis bus to Kampot and making our way on to Kep from there.
Always 20/20, eh?
We arrived for a late lunch weary from the bus journey and the countless unscheduled stops to pick up more passengers and instantly found a burrito place to satisfy our increasing Mexican craving – I don’t know what it is about Phnom Penh, but I’ve never wanted Mexican more in my life than I do now!
Maybe it’s the veggies, or the flavours, or some mystery minerals missing from my largely Khmer diet, but Mexican usually hits the spot when rice won’t suffice.
They were so disappointing.
I’m sure Kep does seafood incredibly well, but that’s a deadly choice for me; the burritos were average at best. I didn’t have any of the extras I’d ordered, neither did Zac and the entire thing lacked any real flavour. Still, we’d not eaten since breakfast so they were welcome to our empty bellies.
Hunger sort of satisfied we got a Tuk Tuk up to our hotel.
Ya Thy (now Sunset Valley Resort) isn’t too far from the main strip, it’d be a little walk, but you could get to town on foot, but the dirt track leading up to the resort is…rustic.
Huge puddles, even bigger cracks and holes in the road, rocks, red earth and huge slips of soft mud, it’s a track the experienced moto and Tuk Tuk drivers can manage, but they’ll charge you double for the privilege!
Bumped and shaken, we were glad to arrive and were instantly greeted by the owner. A softly spoken Khmer guy checked us in and took us to our room.
The resort itself is well cared for, a hoard of staff gardening and cleaning the pool and someone always at hand to help.
As it turned out, we were the only people staying in the resort, which was peaceful, but a little eerie.
The rooms themselves are spacious, but as is the norm in Cambodia, there was little to no light in the bathroom.
We had a room overlooking a lily pond of sorts and with the gentle rustle of leaves over the thatched roof of our bungalow we flopped on to the bed and breathed a sigh of relief.
Settled and bellies starting to growl again, I’d make the mistake of laying down, with the full force of a pre-migraine headache taking hold.
Zac headed over to the restaurant to see what the dinner situation was like, while I stayed curled up, letting the pain in my head wash over me.
After what felt like only minutes, Zac came back to the room, swearing and muttering to himself.
Restaurant was closed.
I looked at the time.
It wasn’t even 7pm and the restaurant was closed.
No other options, Zac scuffled in the bag for some headphones and spent the night on my iPad binge watching Netflix (oh yeah, Netfix works here!)
The next morning I woke super early.
Patly the pre-10pm night, but the 4:45am wake ups at the school have taken their toll and with the best of intentions we’re awake before 6am most days.
Hunger panging in my belly I did my best not to fidget and wake Zac up.
Within half an hour he’d admitted defeat and we were up and showered, ready for a late 8:30am breakfast.
Breakfast was delicious, fresh fruit, coffee, orange juice and an omelette. Not a huge choice, but what they had they did well.
During breakfast the owner came over to ask how we slept and talk over our plans for the day.
We wanted to get a Tuk Tuk in to town to hire a moto, not keen on managing the bumpy trail to the main road ourselves, but he heard the magic word moto and before we had chance to protest he’d rang ‘his guy’ to ask for a price.
“Sir, I can get the moto for you here, $6.”
Zac looked at me, I knew he didn’t want to moto here, one convenient or not and I wasn’t happy about being on the back over some of those potholes. A silent agreement to stall and hire one in town.
Z: “Awkun, can we finish breakfast and then decide?”
O: “I tell him to bring it here, now.”
Z: “No. We want one in town. We want to finish breakfast and then tell you yes or no.”
O: “Ok…so I call him and he can bring it for you when you finish.”
Z: “I…no…we want to wait.”
He was already dealing the number, “You want the moto?”
Zac sighed, “Sure, sure, bring it here. But two helmets,” he held up his fingers and then gestured putting a helmet on, “Two, very important. Two.”
“Yes, yes, two.”
We finished breakfast, packed our bag for the day and headed to the front desk, where a red Honda Air Blade was waiting for us with two flimsy looking helmets attached to the back.
Zac worked out the finer points of switching it on and off, opening the fuel flap and the seat for storage, checking the lights actually worked and that he could stop the damn thing.
He turned it around and I climbed on to the back; a slow start, we bumped down the rocky driveway of Ya Thy’s and tentatively set off for the days adventure, destination: Kampot.
Less than 30 seconds down the road we’d go to the first of three rather large, rather ominous puddles.
Zac opted for the local approach and started to go a little faster to get through the mud.
Puddle number one cleared we got halfway through puddle number two, and the next thing I know I’m on the ground, winded and confused and Zac’s yelling at me to get up.
I stood up as quickly as I could, a little dizzy and asked Zac if he was ok, lifting my arm there was a familiar crunch, followed by an all too familiar pain and then everything was fine again. Shoulder still in socket, I took a mental stock of my pain and everything else seemed fine.
I’d forgotten to answer him, “I’m fine, just my shoulder. Are you ok?”
“The fucking, I didn’t want to hire I here, I wanted to get it in town. We’re going back.”
We pushed the moto back to the hotel. I walked, uneasy about getting back on the back, while Zac rode part of the way. We took our muddy clothes of and out in the shower to rinse, taking in the damage.
Our right sides were a it of a mess, but nothing serious, just cuts and bruises. We weren’t going fast enough to cause any real damage and thankfully the mud offered a soft(ish) landing.
You know what they say: back on the bike.
Going for a different tactic, I walked through the puddles this time while Zac drove, with me getting stuck and snapping a thong in the process – turns out thick mud is kind of sinky – and with a sigh of relief we got to the main road.
Driving to Kampot was such a breeze and we were filled with joy again, laughing that at least we’d got our ‘big’ crash out of the way with and we could get on with the day.
Linch was delicious, as we’ve found was the case in Kampot – having missed it last time, we wet to Veronica’s Kitchen and I had one of the best salads I think I’ve ever had not just had in Cambodia.
I’m a massive fan of black pepper and the Kampot pepper dishes are some of my favourite, with the chicken ad the crunchy salad it was a dream for my tastebuds.
Zac had a burger, which from the way he demolished it, was also up to scratch.
Calmer, well fed and feeling completely relaxed again we decided to head back to Kep for the afternoon, go to the beach and then get a Tu Tuk back into town for dinner as Zac didn’t want to drive in the dark (more than fair!)
5km out of Kampot we start slowing down, and Zac starts laughing and muttering something to me.
All I hear is ‘fuel’.
The bike has completely stopped.
He bows his head in laughter: “We’re out of gas.”
Giggling, I climbed off the back and we started pushing the bike to a gas station, which was conveniently only a few hundred metres away.
As we were pushing a fellow foreigner pulled up to ask if we needed a lift and told us never to trust the fuel gauge: apparently they pull the electronics out so you can’t see how many miles the bike has done (like we are, anyway).
Saying goodbye to him – and his super fluffy, plump dog – we filled up and started to set off again.
Only the bike wouldn’t start.
Zac tried and tried and tried, before kicking it and shouting: “I fuckin hate Kep.”
Stranded 17km from where we needed to be, with no idea what to do, or rather who to call, we went through a few phone numbers, but no answer.
The bike still wouldn’t start and we’d begun to draw a crowd.
Five makeshift Khmer mechanics and no success later, we managed to get hold of the guy who rented the moto to us who’s advice was ‘keep trying and give it a kick’.
When this still wasn’t working, he came out to meet us and after another 20minutes inspecting the bike and trying (and failing) to get it started, he swapped bikes with us and we were to go back to Kep on his.
The suspension wasn’t great and I held my breathe, crunching every muscle as tight as I could over each bump to minimise the impact, but I could already tell it handled much better and we breezed over the dirt trail back to the hotel.
A quick shower, a confused conversation about a Tuk Tuk (“Because, sir, you already have the moto, I don’t understand”) and we were back into town, enjoying a walk alon the beach.
Zac saw wild monkeys for the first time and managed to stub my little toe on a rock – still waiting to see if the toenail on that is going to fall off!
We found a wonderful little hideaway called ‘La Mouette’ and then had dinner overlookin the bay as the sunset in.a French Khmer restaurant which had some bloody delicious ice cream!
After a pretty hellish start to the day, with our relaxing weekend seeming it was turning in to a complete car crash, we shared a sleepy Tuk Tuk back to the hotel.
With my head on Zac’s shoulder, he said Kep had made up for this morning with this afternoon.
We curled up in bed, snuggled in and fell asleep, ready for a suitably lazy Sunday.