Crabs in Kep
A cool breeze blows through the quiet morning air. I sit under a straw-thatched roof looking out over the sea as a boisterous rooster struts by. It’s as if he requires a verbal acknowledgement of his morning duties. I sip a cup of hot black coffee as hundreds of dragonflies dance in the soft light. I slowly mix a bit of creme into my coffee and listen as the metal spoon resonates against the porcelain cup like a wind chime; it is the only sound.
The aging French woman behind the counter smiles and recounts how her semi-retirement in Cambodia began only a few months prior to my arrival, “I fell in love with Kep, and I decided I must stay here.” She smiles warmly and then her lime green parrot begins to call for her and she shuffles over to its large domed cage.
The bicycle is awkward to sit on, all bikes in South East Asia have been awkward. I am too tall for this country and the bikes are just one of the constant reminders of that truth. The bike bumps and skips as I speed down the red dirt path towards the seaside. I can smell the ocean salt and crab even thought I am still half a kilometer away. The seaside stretches out endlessly as I cycle alongside. A few small islands freckle the horizon and summon the castaway within me. Straw bungalows hide hundreds of hammocks from the sun while young Cambodian waitresses shuffle back and forth with coconuts ripe for the drinking in their hands. Almost everyone in Cambodia is young. Cambodia is a puberty-bound child. An infinity pool is slowly being built along the beach property of a resort-to-be. I have beaten the clock. I have arrived before similar vagabonds and travel demo-gods. I have arrived while the essence of Kep was unbesmirched. ASEAN is coming and with it a metamorphosis of SE Asia.
As the sun begins to fall behind the sea, I watch as the silhouette of a man moves slowly across the knee-high water, carefully checking his crab traps which will hopefully host our dinner. The crab is delicate and perfectly peppered from the local Kampot regions trees. The beer compliments each bite and the night slowly fades. As I sit contently after my meal I begin to muse to a friend that a person could almost be forgiven for momentarily forgetting what they learned in Phnom Penh while letting the lull of Kep wash over them.
Stay: Q Bungalows – $7-$35 (with breakfast, wifi, showers, and free bike rentals)
Eat: Kimly Family Restaurant – $5-$12. Order the black kampot pepper crab, you won’t regret it!
Do: Grab a bike and cycle along the coastline, grab a hammock in the shade to relax, or head over to Rabbit Island for some getaway relaxation.