Sunday, January 27, 2013

From the Road: Kep, Cambodia

I meant to do aaaaaaaaall these "From the Road" posts. From outback NSW, from Singapore, from Malaysia ... but travel in strange places means staring out the window, not writing, right? Bad writer ...

Tim and I had plans to travel overland, no flying, from Singapore, up through Malaysia and into Thailand, through Bangkok then down into Cambodia. It wasn't the amazing cultural adventure I was hoping. It didn't suck, but of course there are always unexpected problems while travelling. I didn't think I'd say this, but SE Asia is COLD. Not in the streets, right, but in the goddamn trains and buses! What the frack! Sitting 4-6 hours basically motionless under mandatory and constant cold air just shuts down my circulation. I do not like the cold at all. Hence relocating from Melbourne to the tropics! So, I did what any new traveller would do. Got the flu.

Malaysia does not hold many pleasant memories for me. Partly the flu, and partly several dirty hotels. Sorry Malaysia :( I did enjoy the museum and historical buildings in George Town, Penang very much indeed. I am certain I'm going to set an historical novel there one day. Suffolk House is highly recommended for a visit if you're ever in that part of the world. The only Georgian Mansion in SE Asia. It's shocking to see how run down it was in the 90s, but now its been lovingly restored.

Ah, Thailand. Last time I came it was the islands. This time it was Krabi and Phuket. We decided to fly out of Phuket and linger a little in Thailand as I'd missed so much holiday time being sick. Krabi and nearby Ao Nang are lovely, packed holiday spots. We rented a scooter and buzzed about seeing temples and waterfalls. Then I lost another day to food poisoning ... thank you Lae Lay Grill, the supposed best restaurant in Ao Nang. It was safer sticking to hawker food.

I can see why people flock to Phuket. It's freaking gorgeous. The beaches are just beautiful. On our last full day we spent the day on Karon beach. Or was it Kuta? Anyway, lovely. But I had just one more piece of bad luck: got stung by a jellyfish all up the back of my legs. OW. Hurt like a mofo for an hour, then started to subside. Bad luck comes in threes, so I'm glad that's over with.

We've been in Cambodia about four days. I'm loving it again and Tim is being won over. He can't believe how low the cost of living here is. We've already rented a flat. Such an uncomplicated business here. We called an agent and he promptly came to get us from our hotel on his scooter, and we hired a tuk-tuk to follow him to various flats. The first two ... hmmm. I have to say I'm not loving the Khmer architectural design. We were also warned that Khmer windows can't be shut as they have vents. Cambodia can be a noisy place, so we passed on those. Also, I can't say I am fond of 80s peach, rose pink, beige tile and dark wood decor.

The third place was the shiz. Four flights up and no elevator, but they are demure marble steps, not monolithic metal structures to be traversed one painful step at a time. Beautiful and bright with large windows in the kitchen and bedroom and double doors in the lounge that open onto a large balcony. Big marble tiles throughout (the landlord is a tiler) in beige, but not a scrap of pink or peach to be seen. Most rentals seem to come furnished here, so all Tim and I need to do tomorrow morning is sign the papers and lug our suitcases in. I am, of course, so excited.

But as I said above, right now I'm in Kep. It's on the coast, and we are staying with half a dozen other peeps in a gorgeous private villa. My friend organised this weekend and I'm so glad we made it to Cambodia in time to come.

The villa in Kep, set up for a house party

More anon.


  1. So, do we get to see your new home? :-) Hope you're happy there!

  2. So I'm curious -- can you give a rough estimate in $AUD for renting an apartment like yours?