Kep – Part I

I spent my last full weekend in the beachside town of Kep, which is about a 2 hour drive from Phnom Penh. It’s a sleepy, quiet village with not much to do.  In other words, it was perfect!  I stayed at a resort called Veranda, which is up on a hill overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. It reminded me of the Ewok Village from Star Wars VI. There were dogs and cats everywhere. For me, they were a fun addition to the experience, although I could understand how others might think dogs and cats wandering through the kitchen and dining area might be unsatisfactory.  Here’s my room.


Kep is a small village on the southern coast of Cambodia.


My dining companion on Friday night.


My second dining companion.


View from the dining area, sans cats and dogs.


The walkways at night.


Kep was a 2 hour drive from Phnom Penh.  My driver was fast (great) but honked his horn at everything and everyone he passed (not great) and also burped the whole time (really not great).  I knew I was leaving Phnom Penh, a major city, when the political signs changed from those of the ruling party (CPP) to the opposition (CNRP), which tends to have more support in the rural areas.


Lots of cats at this resort.

More after the jump …

On Saturday, I went for a hike in Kep National Forest. I took an 8 km route that surrounded a “phnom” (hill). I didn’t run into another person the entire route, although I did encounter a cow and two dogs who were guarding a house.



A wat in the distance.


Called “Small Pond” on the map.


This massive tree is called “Remarkable Tree,” and it is.



I was told there were monkeys along the trail, but I didn’t see any. So, no, I didn’t feed them.  Indeed, it is best to avoid monkeys altogether here, as many have rabies. I met someone here whose daughter was bitten by a monkey and needed treatment in Thailand as a result.



Despite being a national park, it is maintained by the owner of this little restaurant, Led Zep. He volunteers to put up signs and take care of the trails.


These guys were not friendly.  I kept my distance. 


Probably the most interesting part of the hike was after I left the park and was walking along the road. I encountered several decaying houses, like the one below, which were likely hotels or villas abandoned when the Khmer Rouge took power. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Kep was a popular vacation destination for wealthy Cambodians as well as the French.  The Khmer Rouge destroyed what they could in Kep; to them, it was a simple of bourgeois excess. At its heyday, Kep even had a casino. Now, like Ta Prohm (the “Tomb Raider” temple I visited a few weeks ago), nature is pushing back, slowly consuming the ruins. The link earlier in this paragraph has a nice summary about Kep’s former glory from the Phnom Post, a local newspaper.


After the hike (on which I burned 784 calories), I relaxed in the library at the top of the resort, drinking iced coffee and eating tiramisu while overlooking the Gulf of Thailand.


My view as I write this blog entry!

Tomorrow, I will take in the local food specialties: crabs and green peppercorns, including a visit to a pepper farm. Should be “exciting.”



About Larry Cunningham

Law professor and Vice Dean at St. John's Law School. Former prosecutor and defense attorney.
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