Kep kep kep

Kep is only 25km from Phu Quoc by sea, but there is no sea link between two places. It took me the whopping 8 hours to go from Phu Quoc to Kep with a stopover at Ha Tien. It was all good though, as I planned leaving Ha Tien by evening bus spending the day walking around Ha Tien. There was no evening bus, so I had to leave in the afternoon and made it to Kep earlier than planned despite all the delays. Fast travelling is certainly not one of the strong points of Vietnam or Cambodia.

Absolutely everything about Kep is just lovely. It is very Fengshui friendly – there is sea, there is a beach, there are mountains. There is sunset over the sea. It is quiet and far away from maddening crowds. Even the Birthday of the King and influx of local tourists did not break the tranquility of the place. It is very green and Kep National Park is most enjoyable, despite that Lonely Planet has to say about it. Buildings are pretty and architecture is a blend of French and Khmer styles. Abandoned buildings from the French era steadily get overtaken by the jungle and add charm to the overall prettiness of Kep. Back in the day Kep used to be a seaside resort for the French elite, but the civil war put an end to that. Now the grandeur of the past is slowly returning back and indeed many if not most of the visitors are French speaking expats. The atmosphere is laid-back and somewhat Pai like, even the names sound similar. Kep, Pai. Pai, Kep. The bungalow in Treetop is probably the nicest of all I have stayed in during my travels. A basic bamboo hut, but spacious and with a touch of style. Seven bucks a night with a bathroom next door. Located in the midst of a fruit garden and guarded by jungle laden mountains on one side. It is a mango season too. Five mangos for 25c from a market or free ones from the garden delivered by the force of gravity. I love Kep.

Apart from mangos in season, Kep is rather expensive. Especially when it comes to food and especially after Vietnam. A 6$ breakfast buffet at Veranda, a castle like luxurious resort, fully compensated high prices at other places, though. Shame that I went there only once. Kep’s very own specialty, green pepper crab is most excellent and worth the high price. There is even a grotesque statue of the crab in the center. On a similar note, there are weird statues all over Cambodia. Giant crabs and chicken, nagas and multi-handed gods carrying proletariat tools in each hand. Cambodia is different.

Kep has a magic shop selling beads run by Stefan, a very charming French man in his forties. Big life experience, no formal education, tons of different jobs and traveling. Plus irresistible charisma only the French are masters of. I was lured there by a flyer and ended up having three days of profound conversations and one self-made bead necklace. Who would have though that bead shops could be so much fun and excitement. He relayed me his life story and told that people tend to make radical changes, when they approach the decade change. Indeed, now looking back at my life, I moved out of my parents’ house and started independent life, when I was 18. Now I am 28 and I quit job to become a dharma bum. Maybe, the next dramatic change at the age of 38?

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