‘Wats’ in Cambodia? Day 132: The Famous Kampot Pepper and Kep Crab

Today I visited neighboring Kep, which is roughly forty minutes away by motorbike. The day however could not be started without a little breakfast Cambodian style. From the one stop stall with its singular menu option, I ordered what I later learned through analyzed research is a nom prang Cambodian baguette sandwich. The sandwich is formed by first making a clean even slice through the center of the crunch exterior of the baguette to reveal the warm, fluffy and soft interior. With a perfect canvass at their disposal, the sandwich artists begin lathering on a jam spread called kayan, which is apparently made from coconut cream/milk, eggs (likely solely yolks), and sugar (got forbid Asians skip on their essential sugar to the point it can be a bit too much). With kayan as a base, they add what I can only hopefully assume is a pate from some sort of meat, possibly pork terrine (it has the texture of cheese), cucumber slices, green/spring onion, and then finally a fresh pickled salad of unripe shredded green papaya, carrots, and radish with a touch of lime to soak into the fresh baguette. On my end, I added a sweet and salty chili compote jam to seal the sandwich’s place into the history of best sandwiches. On the way out there I road on the same palm and coconut tree lined roads with each one I passed further immersing me into the tropical vibe. Before I could venture into Kep town which is quite spread out ringed around their very own forested and hill national park, I needed to do some hiking through said park. I was ready to park my motorbike and begin walking when the ticket man wondered why I would walk when I could ride (God forbid I get a little exercise up in here!). I took the moto and road around the exterior of the hill (or mountain, to make the Cambodians feel a bit better about themselves) until I reached signs pointing towards a path with various English names upon them. After putting the bike aside, I began reaching upwards step by step up the steep incline. I could never quite find a viewpoint until I followed a Swiss couple along to Sunset Rock. Sunset Rock would have been great for said sunset (sadly I was trudging through in the thick of the late morning blazing heat; I would have killed for a cloud or two then and now) as it overlooked the farthest point of Kep as it reached into the sea like a nub of peninsula. After sweating enough as I only know best (at the end of a day,  I could probably save a village in the midst of a drought with the amount of sweat I spew out), I found my motorbike and ringed my way around the Kep national park on this dirt road until I reached the exit point from which I cruised to Kep Beach. Kep Beach was nothing to write home about (not as refreshing as I expected thanks to the ozone layer, which has decided to go on holiday while the sun really sticks it to me) but it was a body of water to cool off more or less. Still drenched but this time surprisingly not due to sweat, I rode over to the Crab Marker for their famous crabs. Before eating I had to check out the scene and view the fishermen and fisherwomen pulling in the bamboo crates loaded with crabs. I ordered simply done crabs with the also famous Kampot green pepper, a spice prized internationally by chefs worldwide. The meal was fantastic although a bit messy. While I tore through the crabs hunting down every last bit of meat within its shells, the French girls sitting at the opposite table from me must have been saying ‘sacra blur’ as decency and etiquette went out the window a long time ago. These crabs were small and thus had very little meat so I wanted every last bit, unquestionably consuming some shell in the process. The sauce was what made the dish for me; it was peppery, and silky smooth with caramelized onions brewed in. On top of that all, many strands of fresh Kampot green pepper berries dotted my plate; these orbs of flavor tasted so lovely I had ate them on their own despite the strong obvious pepper taste. To offset the salty and peppery aftertaste, I ate the most immaculate mangos. These tropical fruits were a sweet and juicy as a fruit was designed to be. Fresh fruit can not be beaten. I had wanted to check out some caves and a sort of secret lake on the way back to Kampot but the sky was appearing too dicey for such an exploration. I went back to the Magic Sponge instead before walking the streets of Kampot to savor its French colonial grandeur and the appealing riverfront. Although Kampot has many places to explore and venture out to, it is not so much as place to do things but rather to experience things. Once the late evening rolled around, I checked into the same sandwich shop for the sandwich but this time I got to more or less assemble my own. Eventually I will probably get sick of this sandwich but until then I will enjoy the ride while it lasts.

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