When we arrived at the Kep Lodge, lo, about sunset and settled by the pool with a wee before-dinner adult-sort of beverage, I looked around and announced that I would not be leaving. Maybe ever.
The plan for Cambodia, as I have previously articulated, was at best loosey goosey: a few days at the temples, a few days at Kep and/or maybe Kampot depending on how we felt about Kep, and maybe if we weren't loving the Kep/Kampot thing, maybe a quick swoosh up to the "resort town" of Sihanoukville with our final stop being Phenom Penh, the city from which we were flying back to China, allocated as many days as were left. Like I said, loosy goosey.
But now, I was firm. While I am not the sort to fall in love with a hotel, this one had me at hello. There would be no leaving the Kep Lodge for me. Would you like to see more?
Here was our bungalow. It was two separate rooms adjoined by the porch that you see the young man standing on. Each room had a reasonably appointed bathroom (for a jungle, people! You can imagine maybe not 5-star but quite adequate for our needs) and four poster beds covered ever so romantically in mosquito netting. I realize that not everyone associates mosquito netting with romance, but it is possible that one of the reasons I was so very in love with this place was that it bore a resemblance to the bungalow Jeff and I had on our honeymoon on Kosrae.
Here's an interior shot. Of course Barry and Lambie were with us! Traveling "lightly" means different things to different people.
So you can see it was fairly simple and unadorned (there is that jungle, rainy season thing to seriously consider when you are decorating), but it was quite perfect in my eyes.
The children were pretty happy, too. Pools and hammocks are right up their alley. I did a lot of reading to them on this trip as we are working our way through all fourteen books of the original Wizard of Oz series. We were on book 7 or so when this photo was snapped. I *love* my Sony Reader! Being able to carry half a dozen books around weighing only a few ounces makes the whole Barry/Lambie thing a little easier to bear (ha! ha ha! bear!).
Our bungalow was set a bit back and behind the restaurant from the "rest" of the lodge, which consisted of five or six other smallish bungalows. Which is really great if you have ever traveled with children. Segregating the noisome little ones from what turned out to be a otherwise grownup sort of place was a bonus.
Here's the restaurant. That overlooks the pool. That, as you already know, overlooks the Gulf of Thailand. I am sniffing little sniffles right now; I can feel the love right though Picasso.
We even got our own Many-Legged What-sit Pet with the place. I have no idea what this thing is (Julie, Platinum Star for the day if you can ID it for posterity!), but we ran into him/her/it or maybe him/her/it's friends, cousins, spouse, whatever, quite a few times while we were there. Him/her/it completely freaked me out on the inside (can you imagine the cracking, squishy, squoshy sound something like this would make as you stepped on it??), but as all moms know, being able to channel that sort of fear into an educational moment is the pinnacle of SuperMom over-achievement.
"Wellll, nice thing," you might be thinking to yourself, "to fall in love with a hotel. A little weird, but these things happen. But surely you didn't travel all the way to Cambodia to park yourself by the pool for a week? Surely there is some reason you are in Kep? Something interesting sight you might want to tell us about before we wander off and find a travel blog that might actually be about travel, as opposed to plunking your butt in a hammock and waving your arm periodically for another bevvie?"
Well, if you insist. There isn't a whole heck of a lot going on in Kep, but it is a fabulous, fascinating place, in a ghost town under revival sort of way. Let me elucidate, with some help from my pal, Wiki.
Kep was a rather fabulous beach resort: from 1900 to the 1960s for the French and Cambodian elite. Kep is located in the southwestern area of Cambodia, only a few kilometers from Han Tien, the border with Vietnam. Huge clue right there as to why there is a stopping point on the whole "fabulous beach resort" period. Things went south during the Khmer Rouge years, and the villas were abandoned and then ransacked. Anything that could be sold was, and Kep is littered, although perhaps a more appropriate word would be, "haunted" with the shells of long abandoned villas.
With that, I'm done for today. Photos of the abandoned villas, and the beginnings of Kep resurgance tomorrow.