|a quick stop to gas up the old tuktuk; the gas options seem to be|
red, yellow, or green, which makes me laugh
|countryside between Kep and Kampot|
|green right now because not everyone has brought in their rice harvest|
|love the palm/coconut trees|
|lots of these cows walking around. seems everyone has at least one.|
|typical nice home|
|always with a cow in the yard|
|a cow and a satellite dish, of course|
|more Muslim people than we remembering seeing the last time|
|countryside school, kids all in uniforms|
|our driver had to stop to fill a jug with water to keep the tuktuk running|
Kampot is a big city, and we went with a few missions: to have a day trip, to pick up some medicine for Marc, to check out the market (the last time we went it was pouring rain and we couldn't see the market), and to eat some lunch. Day trip, check! Medicine, check. Market visiting, nope. I severely overheated during our half-hour walk to the pharmacy and got shaky and crampy. So we just made our way to a restaurant we'd identified in advance called Veronica's. The food was quite good, but the experience was made more interesting by the presence of an Italian man with a very bad leg who was schizophrenic. He was having a very loud, ongoing conversation with someone who wasn't there -- lots of gestures, lots of animated talking, an occasional moment of listening, lots of looking right at Mr Invisible and not really seeing us if we looked at him. But then he would have a perfectly normal interaction with the waitress, asking nicely for the check, asking if she could call a tuktuk for him, paying his check, normal in every detail. In one of his long conversations with Mr Invisible he said "Kampot River, la luna" amid the rest of his Italian, which I couldn't understand. The other customers of the restaurant were equally fascinated by him, and he wasn't at all scary or menacing, just kind of loud.
|Marc got this piece of river fish -- otherwise unspecified. VERY good.|
|the old bridge over the Kampot River|
|our map identified this as "Peace Statue, with Guns"|
|now THAT is a gendarmerie!|
|the walkway along the Kampot riverfront|
|they like statues here -- this horse is in a roundabout that's being built|
|and this is a monument to heroic salt workers|
|here's a place to buy your shrines|
We were at Holy Crab again because we couldn't get a good table at Kimly; Holy Crab is the fanciest restaurant we've been to on our whole trip, beautifully decorated and clearly a restaurant (unlike many places we eat!). The young man who waited on us remembered us from two nights earlier, and his giant smile helped ease us through some language struggles -- though, as I always say, he speaks 100% more English than I speak Cambodian, so the onus is definitely on me to find my way to grasp his English.
The lights came on, our dinner was magnificent, we walked back in an ordinary dark night without rain, and then we sat on our rooftop and had a late-night snack of fresh pineapple and persimmon that Marc had bought at the market. Such a lovely end to our day.
This morning we went down to the crab market to check it out and to buy some Kampot pepper. I keep ordering meals that come with Kampot pepper sauce, thick and gritty and black and so full of flavor I get hungry just thinking about it. As he always does with any food I love, Marc wants to make it for me, and with Kampot pepper.
|this is in the traffic circle between our hotel and the crab market|
|you can buy grilled fish like this at most of the stalls|
|a fishing boat|
|these boys had a little crab in the plastic bag full of seawater, the way you'd buy a goldfish.|
of all the things, for these crab market kids, a crab? we thought it was funny.
|checking the catch in a trap. these southern-style hats are so common!|
|buyers negotiating with the fishermen|
|weighing a fish|
|this adorable little girl broke into a huge grin moments after I took this picture|
|the pepper stall; the pepper is graded in some way we couldn't understand. we bought ~1lb of peppercorns|
from the big container on the left of the three, the browner one. it is SO SO GOOD.
|Marc bought a pineapple here and waited while they peeled and trimmed it.|
|A day's work for this little girl at the crab market. She was stirring rice.|
|Cooking in the back of the market|
|today's pineapple purchase for tonight's late-night rooftop snack|
After a morning swimming and relaxing in the sun, Marc walked back down to the market to buy our lunch. I love this; it's the partial fulfillment of a fantasy he has mentioned for years -- spending a month or so in a small house on a coast somewhere in SEAsia, and every morning he buys the ingredients at the market and makes us delicious fresh lunches and dinners. It's really just the SEAsia version of his every day doing for me, when we're back in New York, but I find it so dear. So he came back to our villa with a big grilled barracuda, a couple of sizes of grilled prawns, a couple more grilled squid, some rice, and he added the leftover pickled vegetables we had with yesterday's lunch for yet another magnificent lunch. We spread out at the couches and table on our rooftop, where I sit and watch him work in the kitchen. I find this to be the most wonderful meal of our trip, and that will still be true even when the trip ends.
|the whole spread|
|is it wrong that I only hear the word "barracuda" as sung by Heart?|
|the bigger, fatter prawns|
This has been such a magnificent trip, in every possible way. Cambodia is so lovely, and the people are sweet -- somewhere in between the flirty Vietnamese and the inner-focused and reserved Lao. The children are beautiful, the scenery is magnificent, and we've had such good food. What more can you ask for?