Tuesday March 15th ~ Kampot, Cambodia
Our second day in Kampot was filled with several excursions and the opportunity to learn about both their salt and pepper industries.
Fields are flooded with water with a high salt content.
Salt is raked into piles and allowed to dry overnight. The next morning the partially dried salt is scooped with a hoe like tool into bamboo wicker baskets.
When the baskets are full, a strong man (or woman) balances the two baskets on a long pole and carries the salt into a holding barn for the salt to dry further.
We checked out just how heavy the full baskets were and estimated around 80 pounds per load (with two baskets).
A drive further into the countryside brought us to our next stop. After a climb up over 200 steps we reached a platform that afforded us a wonderful view of garden plots.
But seeing gardens was not the goal here. We were checking out a cave system that included a temple inside.
Some of the more adventurous members (read as younger and more fit if you please), chose to go deeper into the cave system to visit the bat cave and exit a different way. Tim and I, along with several others, retraced out steps to meet the rest of the group below. What we had not expected was to be confronted with some very aggressive monkeys.
The largest male was blocking our path, jumping from one side of the steps to the other, growling and baring his teeth. I had never witnessed such behavior in monkeys, and was frankly a little intimidated at first. Finally we simply gathered our courage, shouted at them and walked past. Oh, yeah, Tim was brandishing a water bottle to protect us ladies if needed 🙂
The rest of our group finally made their way back to the bottom, and as they emerged, we heard laughter and stories of slippery trails, but also a fun time.
OK, we have learned about salt production here, but how about the pepper? Kampot pepper is highly regarded as some of the best in the world.
There are three different colors of peppercorns sold here, but they are all from the same plant.
The green peppercorns when dried will turn black and are the most common. If allowed to ripen further, they turn red. The red peppercorns can either be sold as red, or have their outer husk removed, and are then sold as white peppers.
The pepper industry here is very labor intensive as everything is done by hand, from the harvest to sorting. The picked peppercorns color sorted individually by hand and then dried in the sun.
They are then packaged and sold around the world.
The local crab and peppercorn dish is quite well-known and not to be missed if you come to Kampot. We were served a wonderful meal at the pepper farm, in fact one of the best on the entire trip. I chose a mixed vegetable combination that included red rice.
Just as we were leaving our guide offered us a taste of lotus seeds. I really enjoyed the fresh nutty flavor and hope to get more somewhere along this journey.
“Raw lotus seeds are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and are a good source of protein, thiamine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese.” ~ Wikipedia
By now it was early afternoon and our bus arrived at the seashore where we enjoyed a couple of hours at the beach in the sleepy village of Kep.
After a rinse in the ocean the stuffed horse was adopted by Ethne, and renamed Kep to commemorate the day. I think “Kep” will have a good home and will continue to travel the world, much as Gus has with us…
Besides swimming, our time was spent either participating in or watching hilarious pictures being cleverly created using the panorama setting on the camera. I am going to have to have a go at this at some point, but on this day, it was simply hilarious watching the “youngsters” playing.
And our day was STILL not over.
Returning to our hotel, Natural Bungalows, and a short rest, we loaded onto a boat for an evening sunset cruise on the Kampot River.
And the end of a long, but very enjoyable day!
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for learning how salt and pepper is cultivated here in Cambodia, as well as sharing laughter and special fun moments with a delightful group of people who I am getting to know better each day.