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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

Ah, Kampot 🙂 Kampot is a town in southeastern Cambodia and one of my favorite places in the Kingdom of Wonder. Kampot is no Sihanoukville, but there is a growing tourism footprint. A local let me know of a new phenomenon he has observed in recent years: older western men marry Khmer girls and open businesses. Somehow, I managed to keep a straight face and acted as if it was the first time I heard such an odd concept. That is where Kampot is right now; on the verge of becoming another Disney Cambodia, but still a real place with genuine people. The tourist ‘strip’ is very small and most of the town is full of Khmer people going about their daily life. For the first two days, all of my meals came from the tourist area and they were all excellent. I had the saraman curry at Rikitikitavi, ribs at the Rusty Keyhole, and banana pancakes at Epic Arts Cafe. The food was all really good (and Epic Arts is a great cause), but I decided to go local for my last night in Kampot. I walked a couple km from the main drag, down unlit, unpaved roads and arrived at a place full of Cambodians having dinner. Most of them were having friend pork and pickles, so I joined in on the fun. This is where I met the man who let me know about the recent influx of westerners. He let me know that the traditional dish of Kampot is squid with Kampot pepper. He went on to let me know where THE place was to go for it and I quickly left for round two of dinner. Shops and restaurants close soon after dark and I was the last customer in the family operated dining establishment. The family had their evening meal while I was eating. The food was delicious and it was a fraction of the price I had been paying in town. While in Kampot, I tried to stay at the highly recommended Magic Sponge (which has amazing samosas), but they were booked and I ended up at the neighboring Orchid Guesthouse. It was decent, cheap and wifi worked in the room. I also did a day trip to Bokor Hill Station, a sunset cruise on the river, and visited the market while in Kampot. If you are planning on visiting Cambodia, I highly recommend checking out Kampot, just don’t tell anyone!

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