It was the day we were finally going to explore our surrounds.
After a week in Arcadia, we had barely left the grounds. The river tempting us into its abyss every morning and not letting us go until night.
But we had finally woken up on the adventure side of the bed and we were all pumped to go to Kep, even if it was cloudy and grey. We piled ourselves on our scooters straight after breakfast. Excited for a delectable seafood experience for lunch, I kept it light with a vegemite baguette only.
Although Kep is only a short ride away, there are abundant roadside and centre lane hazards that attempt to stop you from discovering Kep’s treasures. From trucks to animals, we weaved and raced out onto the highway. A huge gust of wind almost lifted us off the road as if we were a kite. Finally we made the last section of road into Kep and our last hazard, clouds of dusts from the wheels of heavy vehicles travelling the dirt road.
Heart pumping, we pulled in to the seaside markets of Kep. These are not just any markets; yes, they have the usual trinkets for sale, but there’s also has an intense crab and fish market to explore. The crabs are as fresh as you can get, with women out in the shallows fishing daily, cages at the ready. Others sort the catch and get it ready for sale.
With clouds rolling in, we headed out of the markets to the main stretch of seafood restaurants. We had selected Kimly restaurant in advance from our Lonely Planet guide books. Knowing we were in for something special, we had agreed to splurge for the occasion, breaking our backpacking budgets for the day. If you are on a budget, the crab market is famed for its pepper fried crab so dive right on in.
Quickly, we found Kimly, just a few doors up from the markets. We sat at a long elegant table with real cutlery. I couldn’t help but feel underdressed as I looked around, even though by Western standards the décor didn’t equate to a fancy establishment.
I took turns looking at the menu and the ocean right beside us. I was having a hard time deciding what to order. On some level I hoped that staring at the ocean would present me with some kind of sign or inspiration as to what I should eat. It didn’t.
As the waiter took our orders I finally settled on a selection of the fresh rice paper rolls with a friend and some grilled squid just for me. This way we could solve our indecisiveness and have all our favorite seafood, in my case: crab, prawn and squid. Although our meal was more expensive than our usual SE Asia standards, especially compared to street food prices, it was definitely the cheapest and nicest seafood I have had ever.
It wasn’t just me; there were many satisfactory nods and stoked grins shared around the table as we scoffed our food in unusual moment of silence. Stuffed, we emptied our pockets and rolled out the door. Back at the markets a fat rain drops splashed across my cheek.
All too quickly our plans to explore the rest of Kep and the surrounding area were over. The clouds were rapidly blackening and we decided it was time to abort the mission to visit the other sites like Wat Kiri Sela and the abandoned hotel and casino of Bokor Hill Station in Bokor National Park.
We had barely made it out of town before we were caught in a blinding downpour. Strong gusts of wind threatened to send us catapulting sideways. When we finally pulled into Kampot the rain had stopped and the clouds had begun to clear. That would be right!
Just a stone’s throw away, Arcadia is the perfect base to explore Kep – maybe be a little more wary of the weather when you pick your day of exploration, unlike us!