My guy James from Australia joined me for a ride to Bokor Mountain. Bokor Mountain National Park is typically on the top of everyone’s list when traveling through Kampot but I was a bit wary when I had read about the casino built atop this mountain and national park. Yes, I know how can a national park and a casino coexist? Well ladies and gentleman, when you have enough powerful Cambodian men ready to be sold at the right price anything else is possible and anything really means anything. James had never ridden a motorbike before so I had to take it easy on the accelerator but I was glad to show a newbie around. We entered the national park and paid an entrance fee to the resort for cleanliness and preservation but that sounds like a load of bullshit in my opinion. Regardless it was only fifty cents. Thanks to the casino (the only positive you will hear from me about this eyesore of an enterprise) the road up was perfect and clean of debris and loose rocks like a new Western highway road might be. The road cut back and forth while offering fair straightaways to really test the limits of the bike. As we climbed further up and left the ground level behind, we began to find great beauty in this park with the rare large bird flying overhead and a jungle landscape that could not be missed. Eventually we passed the eyesore of a casino before reaching the summit sought after by many visitors for the well regarded grand viewpoint. From this point amongst various temples, I stood atop looking at first downward at the nearly sheer 90 degree drop off to the valley below before this relatively small patch of land as seen from above turned into the sea that stretched far into the distance until the clouds and haze swallowed up any further perception. To stand on the edge of the earth like that could only make me feel a little taller to the point I felt like I could jump out and stretch my wings to test the billowing winds upon which I would sail. Beyond the grandiose view worth it’s claim on everyone’s Kampot itinerary, the two of us checked out the old, deserted buildings formerly used as a French hotel, casino, and king’s palace but none held our interest for long despite spooky and historical eeriness to them. Soon after we returned to the road for the route downwards as I had been itching to test the speed limit once more. After hanging with James and acting as much of a guide as I could, I took this opportunity to kick up the dust and leave the various series of paved road behind cruising as fast as the bike could muster with minimal traffic in front of me. Cambodia may very well have speed limits but my bike’s speedometer was broke so I more or less used that as an excuse to drive as I chose. The fact that Cambodia has very few cops patrolling the roads assisted me in my pursuit. As the wind rippled through me and around me, I howled like a wolf feeling like the free bird that I am. After some lunch at the Magic Sponge, I led us to Arcadia Guesthouse which is way out of town and sits directly on the river making it a great spot to chill. Arcadia is as chill and laid back as they come with a floating dive platform six meters high made from bamboo and a dive deck directly from the bar. After cooling off, I met some of the other people hanging out and soaked up the relaxed vibe. Once back in Kampot, I went to the same soup and noodle shop as last night to order myself some soup along with what I later found out to be two boiled duck eggs. These duck eggs were special as they contained unborn ducks devoid of feather and bone. To consume such a food, I did as the locals do and cracked open the top before sipping the liquid within like a shot. Once I removed the rest of the shell, the contents could not be mistaken. After a dash or two of salt and pepper, I ate through the soft bits of the duck before finishing off with the hard core that tasted like the white of a hard boiled chicken egg but extra hard boiled. As I reached the finish line of the tasty pot of broth, the Belgians arrived as was promised. The three of us spent basically the rest of the night together chatting away through all sorts of random topics with world politics rising to the top as well as how traveling reveals so much of you as a person. I never knew I was such a political person but once I realized the situation internationally and especially how the economics and social dynamics work in Europe, I have grown a strong passionate voice. I wish the three of us were on the same route especially the Belgian guy since we would make a great team. Unfortunately, the few people I see fit to handle my perquisites as a fellow traveler tend to be going in a different direction. Alas, we went our separate paths as the night closed but keeping in touch would be a must regardless of where our lives take us.
‘Wats’ in Cambodia? Day 131: Riding the Switchbacks Up to Bokor Mountain