World Travel with a Twist of Zen - Fields of Indulgence  
 
Kampot, in the most Southeastern corner of Cambodia, was one of our favorite towns of our travels thus far. Set on the Kampot River, which is actually an estuary that flows right into the Gulf of Thailand, Kampot has managed to retain its small town charm. The people are incredibly friendly and every evening the locals would line the promenade along the river to watch the spectacular sunsets.
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Breathtaking sunsets along the Kampot River, leading to the Gulf of Thailand
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  Of course, the part we enjoyed most was all the great food we found here, particularly because it was so locally produced! Kampot is a very unique place as this is where some of the world’s best pepper is grown. Pepper production has been recorded here as early as the 1200s and the region was a major producer until the Khmer Rouge destroyed the pepper plantations in the 70s. Things are now back in full swing and we took full advantage by eating freshly picked green peppercorns with popular seafood like shrimp and crab. Each dish would come with many sprigs of the pepper, which has a delightfully zesty, earthy spiciness when it is fresh. We have never tasted fresh pepper like that before as it usually has to be dried for preservation.

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Glistening Salt Fields under the restful clouds of the Kampot coast
We also visited the salt fields, where salt water pools rest peacefully under the sun letting the salt settle to the ground while the water evaporates. It is then collected and stored until it is ready to be bagged and sent to the market. As salt and pepper are staples on tables around the world these days, it got us thinking how eating local crab with local salt and pepper was really embodying the slogan “Go Local”. There is something beautiful about accepting the foods that a region produces at a given time and just eating those foods. We often have found here that when things are out of season people simply do not eat them, whereas in the Western world we spend enormous amounts of energy to import those things that don't grow nearby. That is not to say that it's always bad to import foods as sometimes it is necessary. But being around such simple delicious food that comes from within a few kilometers inspired us to think about eating more locally wherever we go. 

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Chris and Lauren at Bodhivilla
Though the food here was great, the best part about our visit to this town were the new and not so new anymore friends we met there.  Our crew we met at the Gibbon Experience in Laos - Cat, Francis, and Claudia - rejoined us at Kampot. At our first dinner in town together, we met Chris and Lauren (see their travel blog here), another Kiwi and a Canadian, who happen to be staying at the same place as us! We ended up partying until 6am that morning at a Riverside bar and guesthouse called Bodhivilla. We danced the night away, swimming in the river in our undies, and seeing the town wake up and sun rise during our hour walk back to our guesthouse.

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Dragon Dust, Francis, and Cat
The day after the party, we persuaded Chris and Lauren to stick around for our sea fishing trip. Though it was cut slightly short due to a storm, it was fun to boat up the river and out into the sea and do some fishing. For us, it was “physical skill” aspect of Cambodia to learn about fishing in the sea. The “mental skill” was our study of Khmer architecture and history. In the end we caught some fish and grilled them up right on our boat on a little BBQ bucket that you see a lot around SE Asia. Our new friends were heading in the same direction as us, so we four continued to Vietnam together, while we had to say goodbye to our previous posse :(. We will miss them dearly and hope our paths cross again soon!!!! In the meantime, we head to the border town of Ha Tien to begin our exploration of the Mekong River Delta! 

To see all the great pics of this leg, go here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzFxH3e

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Sunrise in Kampot greets us after a night of heavy revelry
JaneP
5/3/2012 03:33:23

Are you ever coming back to the States? Not that I'm encouraging it. Just wondering if you're considering staying there longer, or at least until your visa expires. Pictures outstanding. Food other worldly. Are you getting a practice or two in? Taking the 100-hour advanced training @ Dharma. Thinking of you two often. Loved the postcard. Take good care of each other. Love always...jp

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