A daytrip to Kep Beach for crab, the rules of the road in SE Asia, and a game of chess at the Keyhole

We had had so much fun on our motos the day before that we decided to take another trip on our second day in Kampot.  After eating lunch at the Keyhole, we decided to go to Kep, a beach town about 25km away from Kampot.  The highway was not flawless deserted asphalt like the day before.  It was a dirt road, potholes were plentiful (sometimes massive) and there were lots of other vehicles – trucks roaring by (they give you a friendly honk) and lots of locals on their motos on their way to Kep for a similar daytrip.

The main rule for driving a moto on SE Asia roads (Cambodia as an example) is to not run into the person in front of you.  There is generally no such a thing as “right of way”.  Someone can pull out in front of you or cut you off and cause you to slow down and they are not in the wrong – you are expected to slow down.  Its not a perfect rule – 2/3s of the traffic fatalities in Cambodia are moto drivers or passengers.  The rest of SE Asia is not quite as bad, Cambodia’s just been a bit slow on getting around to putting in “moto” lanes (similar to bicycle lanes in the U.S.) that you see more frequently in Vietnam and Thailand.  Dodging deep potholes isn’t that hard as long as you keep an eye out on the road in front of you and adjust in advance and if you can’t adjust, slow down. 

Aside from taking an occasional bump from a pothole the ride down to Kep was nice.  Can’t get enough of this green rolling Cambodian countryside.

It was a hot day on the Kep beach.  Lots of local Cambodians from nearby cities (and Phnom Penh) like to come down on Sundays to get some beach action in.

We were the only non-Cambodians there.  Ben and I played catch with the frisbee and after playing for a bit we noticed that the 60-70 people sitting on the stone wall bordering the beach near us were enjoying the action and laughing after Ben or I occasionally missed the disc or fell down.

I’m guessing many of them had never seen a game of catch with a Frisbee before and the novelty made it an easy spectacle to watch.

After the beach, we explored some roads east of Kep and found a hut built over the water to relax in with Rabbit Island in the distance.

By the time we got back to Kep Beach the sun was starting to set.

After sipping a beer at Kep Beach, we rode our motos over to the west side of the Kep peninsula to catch the final part of the slow burning sunset.

Some monkeys eating fruit sat down next to us to join us watching the cotton candy clouds, but they were more interested in their fruit than the sunset.

Kep is known for its fresh crab catch each day and the sun and long day had made us hungry so we rode over to the nearby crab market.  Kampot is famous for its pepper “Kampot Pepper” which is fantastic (and looks like little green peas).  I combined Kep’s best (crab) and Kampot’s signature spice by ordering a crab spiced with Kampot Pepper.

To Ben’s chagrin, eating crab is a slow and patient art.  The goal is to break shell and expose just enough meat that you can suck the meat out of the shell.  The meat is soft, delicious, and should come out with a little suction once it has been exposed enough.  If you can’t suck it out, you haven’t exposed the meat enough and need to crack some more shell.  Every once in a while you get a bit of shell in your bite and overall it is a messy affair, but when you get that bite its all worth it.  Ben was not enjoying this one bit – he prefers effortless eating, preferably with no exoskeleton in his way.  I understand his point, but eating that soft crab was definitely worth the time it took.

After jamming so many activities into the past two weeks, we decided we needed one day of rest in Kampot – late breakfast lunch/pool/nap and back to the Keyhole for one final order of ribs at the Keyhole.  After our final dinner in Kampot, I noticed a local Kampot woman playing chess outside her massage shop next to the keyhole.  She had just mopped the floor with some Aussie and was putting the pieces and rollup board away so I seized my chance and asked her for a game.  She spoke almost no english but no conversation is required while enjoying the world’s best board game. She was a very solid player but I’ve played my fair share of chess in my day so it was a competitive game.

I’m guessing she was used to fairly easy wins against inexperienced tourists because by midgame when she realized she wasn’t going to walk over me she got much more serious about each move.  When I was finally able to pin her king into a corner, one move from checkmate, she went into stall mode and almost refused to make her final move, unwilling to accept her fate.  In the end she stuck out her hand and congratulated me and while I was glad to find out this part of chess is universal, I think she was still pretty salty about the loss. I know I would be – I hate losing, especially in chess.

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