I have found my favourite place. After a month of travelling Vietnam and Laos, we crossed the border into Cambodia. Our first stop was Siem Reap followed by an overnight bus to Sihanoukville (surprisingly comfortable!), then another bus out to Kampot. I’d heard lots of good things about this town and had also read some blogs on things to do/see/eat/drink. During my research I looked, without expectation, to see if there was any yoga in the area and to my surprise there was a whole centre which offered yoga, spa treatments and a vegetarian cafe! I was delighted. Not only that, but the place I was planning on booking us into, due to a recommendation by a friend, happened to be right next door. Everything looked like it would fit into place… and it did.
I was staying at Olly’s Place, where my friend and I shared a bungalow for just $8USD a night (about £5.50). This group of separate straw shacks all lead to the bar and restaurant with lots of comfy chairs, cushions and hammocks all on a dock which backs straight onto the river. It’s total paradise. I spent lots of time relaxing, reading, writing, thinking, chatting, lying, napping, jumping, swimming; feeling very happy and content.
On my first morning I woke up with an early storm then couldn’t get back to sleep so I went for a run which was a really nice way of exploring the surroundings. As soon as the sun came up high enough to hit my face I got very, very hot. Luckily for me though, I was able to plunge straight into the river as soon as I got back and enjoy a beautiful swim, gazing up at blue skies and the surrounding palm trees.
Next door was Banteay Srey, which was closed on the day I arrived (Tuesday) but became almost my home for the following three days. Deva Cafe had some amazing breakfast options such as homemade morning glory flatbreads filled with all kinds of veggies and dips along with different fresh smoothies and juices. For lunch and dinner they serve an array of hot and cold tapas dishes which are really tasty and involve good quality plant proteins such a beans and lentils which I have found hard to find in traditional cuisine street food.
On my third day in Kampot, it was time to try out the spa. This training spa empowers and supports Cambodian women from backgrounds of poverty, violence and trauma. My therapist, Srey Ny, was so polite, professional and incredible at what she did. I had a pedicure with an added half hour foot massage as well as the most amazing facial. I don’t usually get facials but in my quest to become more natural I’ve ditched my cleanser totally and after being in a few very polluted cities I felt like a deep clean with natural products would feel rather divine. My favourite thing about this facial, besides the incredible head, neck and shoulder massage that I got with it, was the fact that I saw the beauty therapists prepare each stage. The facial involved a cleanse, steam, exfoliation, massage, mask, tone and moisturise and every product used came from the earth, such as black sesame, coconut, palm sugar, honey, cucumber, green tea etc; good enough to eat. I saw the girls fetch the fresh cucumbers and slice them up ready for the toning stage of my facial. The whole experience was blissful.
I loved that Banteay Srey offered yoga. I had managed to find classes when I was in other Asian cities which was great but the yoga here was my favourite. Every day they offered a power yoga class in the morning at 9:30am and a yin yoga in the evening at 5pm. Finding a sacred place to practice yoga with like-minded, inspiring individuals in something very special; it helped me to feel grounded and open to all the new experiences that were coming at me.
One day we rented bikes and went into town for breakfast and to plan our next moves, then a storm hit. This lead me to spend the day cafe hopping around all the cafes I’d researched and heard about. I had breakfast at Ellie’s Cafe where I had the special: homemade cashew and ginger granola with mango, banana, dragonfruit and yogurt. I don’t usually eat yogurt but I have been doing since coming to Asia, as a way of upping my good bacteria in my gut, and I’ve been enjoying it. The breakfast was delicious and I followed with a pomegranate loose leaf tea at the Epic Arts Cafe, an amazing place that supports disadvantaged people; the company enrols disabled students who are taught about artwork, gaining technical skills, performance skills and creative outlets. I also had a flapjack that I’ve honestly been fantasising about ever since! It had rolled oats, raisins, ginger, cashews and I’m not sure what else but it was vegan. For lunch, I ate at Cafe Espresso, which was opened by an Australian couple so I was able to enjoy a true favourite of mine: avocado on wholegrain toast with two poached eggs, spinach and roasted tomatoes, finished with lime, salt and pepper. This place really does have the Australian cafe vibe and is another lovely place to spend a rainy afternoon.
Finally, we spent our last evening on a river cruise. For just $5 we spent three hours cruising and were given a complementary drink. The sunset was beautiful, even after the stormy afternoon, and we got to see fireflies after it turned dark. Our cruise was through Naga House and was an enjoyable way to spend the evening and take in Kampot’s tranquility.