The tiny town of Kep used to be a popular coastal retreat for wealthy Phnom Penh residents. It was however, pretty much decimated during the war and although there has apparently been a reawakening of sorts we found it to still be an incredibly sleepy place, worthy of a night but not any more. There was a very small strip of restaurants lining one area of the beach front and we had an excellent crab dish at the crab shack there. It was also cool to see so many local Cambodian families hanging out along the strip of sand they call the beach.
Many of the houses in Kep have been left abandoned since the war and you can clearly see the bullet holes and vandalism through the tangles of the weeds and jungle that is now growing over things. We actually found it a little creepy.
Although we were somewhat underwhelmed with Kep in general there was a beautiful National Park with an excellent trail all of the way around it. The park offered great vistas and we really enjoyed running the trail. I think we would have enjoyed Kep a lot more if we had had a nicer place to stay. There are not a lot of options in Kep and all of the nicer looking places were booked. It is the sort of location that likely grows on you if you have a nice view and a cozy bed, we unfortunately had neither….oh well, off to Sihanoukville.
On our way to Sihanoukville we stopped at Phnom Sorsia (the elephant cave), a holy cave complex complete with alters, statues and quite a network of caves. A local lad was leading us through the caves that proved a bit much for the boys (the big one included). They turned back when the going got a little rough and dirty but I managed to crawl through the tight and dark spots to get a glimpse of the thousands of bats that were flying and squeaking above. I have to admit that while it was really cool it was also rather loud and stinky. Unfortunately the camera could not focus as there was just too much movement from the circling bats.
When I got through the caves and circled back to the start I went to get some money to give to the guy who led me through. I turned around to pay him he had disappeared in what seemed like seconds. He was not the only thing that disappeared. Our super duper lightweight flashlight that he had been using disappeared along with him. I guess he figured it was worth more than the few dollars he would get from me – he was right. Grrrr…..sort of put a damper on the experience.