A Peck of Peppers | Kampot, Cambodia

After two days of Phnom Penh and a couple good nights out, my friends and I decided to keep moving through Cambodia. We’d talked to several other travelers who recommended visiting the town of Kampot; a quite town along the coast of Cambodia, and it’s exactly where we headed.

We were able to find a bus leaving mid-day arriving into Kampot just past dinner time. We thought it was the perfect timing for a bus, however, like most things in Southeast Asia, it took WAY LONGER than expected.

What we encountered was a completely tore up highway, packed with traffic, and a ridiculously bumpy ride. Reason: a huge freeway (actually a few) is being build throughout Southeast Asia connect China to the coastline. It wasn’t the most fun bus ride but we made it safely to our quiet hostel located in the center of town.

Accomodations

Although Mad Monkey does have a location in Kampot, the guys and I decided to branch out and try another hostel, a non-party but social hostel, called Monkey Republic. This hostel is located pretty centrally and very easy to walk to from the bus depot. The staff was super friendly, breakfast was delicious (extra cost but located onsight), and the cost was reasonable. It was approximately $6-7 USD per night, which is ideal on a backpackers budget.

It should also be noted that one of the hotspots to stay for backpackers is called Arcadia Backpackers Kampot. Located on the outskirts of town along the river, Arcadia offers backpackers more than just accomodation. They have a variety of water activities including a waterslide, blog, tubes, rope swing, and so much more.

We were pretty intrigued by this hostel, but made the ultimate decision to use Kampot as a “chill spot” before the islands. Plus, Arcadia is located quite far from the main city center and would require a tuk-tuk ride to and from the location. It was something we didn’t want to hassle with at that moment.

Tourist Attractions

One of the main “must see” is going to visit a pepper farm. Apparently Kampot is known for its pepper and as someone who had never been to a pepper farm before, I was very intrigued.

Through the help of our hostel, we were able to gather some information about how to visit one of these farms. The front desk told us many of the tuk-tuk drivers have different types of “packages” of touristy places we could visit, with prices varying. We ventured outside to the main road and easily found a tuk-tuk. As a group (we had another hostel mate join us), we decided on a package that included a visit a local lake, a salt field, and the farm.

The first pit-stop was to a salt field, which was nothing but a field. It was dry season so I wasn’t expecting much, but our driver did provide a little explanation of how salt…grew? Was made? (not sure the correct verbiage for salt)

The lake wasn’t anything unique, since at this moment it was dry season, but there were a few small huts surrounded by rice fields that made it quite beautiful. It was quite bumpy to get too, but the route took us through local villages and rice fields. Unfortunately, the downside was the amount of plastic we saw on the ground and in the rivers/water. There were many moments that were hindered by the sight of garbage.

Kampot Pepper Farm

After the lake, we continued to La Plantation, a certified organic Kampot pepper farm located roughly 22km in Kon Sat; a particular area with the perfect temperament and climate for pepper to thrive. I read something to do with the combination of the salt water/salty air, the air, and the amount of rainfall.

When we first arrive to the farm, we were greeted with a beautiful walkway surrounded by plants of different shapes and sizes. This walkway lead us to the main building, where we joined in on a FREE walking tour (with pepper tasting at the end.)

The tour walked us throughout the pepper and spice plants teaching us about the 22 hectares farm. From how the plants are grown, to how they harvest the pepper berries, and finally, about the different types of pepper.

Prior to my visit, I couldn’t tell you anything about pepper. Now, I can tell you that pepper plants grown upwards on wooden poles. The different berries all grown on the same stalk and have to be hand picked and hand sorted, as flavors from the different berries wouldn’t blend well with the others. There are four different pepper berries: green, black, red and white; each with their own tastes and purpose. And there’s a unique difficulty to collecting the white and red pepper berries, which apparently are rare.

Plus, La Plantation is more than just pepper. Their array of plants also include a variety of spices like turmeric and chili and other peppers like long peppers, which are all grown throughout the farm.

One of the perks of visiting this particular farm is the pepper tasting that comes at the end of the walking tour. It provides an insight into the various flavors of each pepper. A chance to taste before deciding to purchase a product. Plus, it’s just fun. I never fully understood that extent of pepper but I have a new found appreciation for pepper thanks to this tour.

The Rest of Kampot

After we returned home from the farm tour, we didn’t really have a plan. Thankfully, when this happens it usually means food is in the near future. There was one place we were told is a good area for food, the river side.

We found a little restaurant located near the river and indulged in local Cambodian cuisine. Afterwards, we walked along the riverside admiring the boats lined up. We were told they offer boat cruises at sunset but we were more interested in just having a beer. That is exactly what happened when we ran into several other hostel mates. It was a pretty tame evening as we were leaving for another location in the morning.

No affiliation with any of the hostels listed.

For more information regarding La Plantation, please visit their website at https://kampotpepper.com

Travel occurred in March 2019

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