Mom and I arrived in Kampot on Monday expecting to stay one night at a little French guest house called Les Manguiers (the mangoes), but once we set sight on our little bungalow by the river, we knew our stay would be extended. Enchanted by the view of Bokor Mountain, towering above the palm trees and peaceful river, each night we've decided we'd stay here "just one more day." Tonight will be our third.
Yesterday, we decided to explore Kampot by bike and took two of the guest house's courtesy bikes toward Phnom Chanouk, a cave in a mountain with an ancient temple inside. Our ride through the countryside was rather hot, but we were greeted by a thousand hellos as we passed by homes, restaurants and vendors selling various odds and ends.
About an hour into our trip, I managed to communicate (in Khmer!) with a woman to find out whether we were lost or still had a ways up the road to travel. It seemed, she said, we had another 7K to travel until we reached the village entrance to our destination. She was right, and we found ourselves turning off the main road onto a dirt path sweaty (dripping, rather), fatigued and a bit lost.
We cycled a bit up the dirt road to the heart of a village with the cave mountain in view just across the rice fields. When I saw a path I though would lead us to our destination, I took a turn.
We soon ended up teetering through rice paddies, trying our best not to lose our path and fall into the mucky waters. We came to a woman, presumably the paddy's tenant, who told us with a laugh that we had lost our way. Well, at least that's what I thought she said. My Khmer is still very little.
She gave us directions I had trouble following, so we left her confused and teetering on straight for their house where upon we were instructed by yelling kids with waving arms not to continue on further.
By this point we had made a spectacle of ourselves - two crazy foreign ladies trespassing on a village rice paddy, unable to speak Khmer and having lost their way.
The villagers - I'm guessing from the same family gathered around and tried to figure out what to do with us. Finally, a girl about my age hopped onto a moto and had us follow. Along the way she picked up a boy around the age of 18 (her brother?) and they led us up to the mountain near a cave, but unfortunately not the one we had just spent between three and four hours searching for.
Grateful for their kindness, we decided the sun had taken a toll on us (I've got sunglasses tan lines to prove it) and needed to head back to Kampot. We wanted to pay the kids for taking on the burden of being two crazy foreigners' tour guides, but once they led us back to the main road, they zipped off without so much as a goodebye.
Luckily, once back on the main road, we hitched a ride on a tuk tuk, that might or might not have intended to take passengers. Either way we made it back to Kampot, amused by our adventure and burnt to a crisp.