Monday, October 4, 2010

Kampot-The Land of Salt and Pepper

Language Training Week 20-26th Sept.
Ok well it has been over two weeks since my last blog and to be honest I have been so busy and disconnected from the interweb that the blog or even keeping notes for it didn't even enter my head. Just to give a quick summary of what has been happening since the infamous bike ride which was the topic of the last blog. Well the language classes continued apace for until Sunday 26th by which stage I think we were all starting to get a but tried but our Khmer is coming along in leaps in bounds. Needless to say I didn't get up to much else activity wise in this time except lots of reading. I read about half a dozen different reports on Education in Cambodia the more interesting of which are listed below.

2. Cambodian PRSP 2006

Placement Visit Week 27th Sept.-3rd Oct.
So the idea behind placement week is that we take a break from language training to go to our various placements meet with our line-managers (boss) and colleagues. So people heading off to various places including: Battambang, Kampong Thom and Stung Treng as well as my placement in Phnom Penh. 
Basic Map of Cambodia with main cities
So anyway I hoped on the bus from Kampong Cham back to Phnom Penh which was pleasant 3hour trip. My placement week kicked off at 8.30am Monday morning when I had meeting with Zablon Kahura, Advocacy and Management Advisor of NGO Education Partnership NEP Cambodia. This was followed by a  meeting with Rebecca Pino, from the  Disability Action Council DAC. The day finished up with the big meeting with Mr. Rong Chhun, President of CITA and my future colleagues. All in all Monday was a very busy day but it was great to met the various people and to get so much information. 

Tuesday was deacated to house hunting and all in all I saw 9 places and ended up taking the first place I saw, how typical is that. The apartment is good, has ensuite bedroom, huge living room, kitchen, washing machine and most importantly a balcony and good neighbours. I will post pictures once I move in which will be on the 20th of October and to be honest I can't wait. 

Kampot Salt
Kampot Pepper
On Wednesday morning I had one-to-one meetings with the key CITA staff who are really great people who I am really looking forward to working with. Indeed after that morning I really wanted to just stay there with them but I guess I can wait till the 25th Oct. Wednesday afternoon I headed to Kampot in the south of Cambodia. The 5 hour bus journey was made more entertaining as I traveled with another VSO'er  Claire who is based in Kampot and having been in Cambodia two years she had loads of stories. Kampot by the way is the land of salt and pepper, actual salt and pepper not the pop group. The region is famous for its pepper corns and for the salt fields.     

Wednesday evening I had a really relaxed meal with the VSO Kampot team which is made up of, Claire, Charlene and Chris, and Bob. A great bunch of people, Charlene and Chris were my hosts and they couldn't have been better. Indeed it was funny meeting Chris as he had spent time in Ireland and we ended up chatting about what was going on at home. 
Kampot River
On Thursday morning I got to attend a meeting at Provincial Education Office which was a very useful experience and then Charlene took me on tour of Kampot and we chatted about her job which is based at the teachers training college. It was great to be able to have someone to ask all those annoying little questions and to see the reality on the ground for teachers and trainee teachers. Thursday evening was another meal out this time with a variety of ex-pats working in Kampot all of whom were really interesting to talk to. 
Downtown Kampot
Friday I was due to head back to Phnom Penh so that I could house hunt again on Saturday but since I had already found an apartment and because Kampot is .....well it is Kampot it didn't take much to presude me to stay another day. Which turned out to be the best day of the visit. It started with an 6am start which would not have been as bad had I enjoyed the town so much the night before. Anyway Charelene took me to an school opening ceremony which lasted about 4 hours but was a real experience. I also got to see how the school functioned and see some of the things that were working really well. 
Epic Arts Dance Group
That evening I got to attend a dance performance at  Epic Arts which provide various arts, dance and drama programmes for people with disabilities. First off let me say that Epic Arts is fantastic and is on par within anything in Ireland if not ahead. There were three dance performances and they were excellent it was certainly the highlight of the week just in terms of the pure positive energy that was there. I concluded the evening with a few drinks and chillax'n in spot called Bodhi's which was truly a very relaxing spot to spend Friday night after a slightly crazy week. 

Phnom Penh and this time the bus journey was a little bit longer due to a train derailment (no injuries) and only my broken Khmer conversation with my fellow passagers. Once back in Phnom Penh I went to dinner at my new neighbours. Finally on Sunday I finished off the week by picking up my tailor made pants (3 pairs) and taking the bus back to Kampong Cham where language training will recommence for another couple of weeks. At this stage I really am starting to think of Cambodia as home and just want to embrace everything it has to offer.


  1. Kampot (Khmer: កំពត, "Tetraodontidae") is the capital of Kampot Province in southern Cambodia, with a population of 39,186.

    The city is a quiet riverside town just a few kilometers from the Gulf of Thailand. Before the war, Kampot was best known for its famous black pepper, which is still widely available in Cambodia.

    Kampot town is the base for daytrips up the Dâmrei Mountains in general, and Bokor Mountain in particular, in either a truck or a dirt bike. Stunning panoramic views over Cambodia and Vietnam can be enjoyed from the mountain tops. Waterfalls, boating and rafting on the river can be enjoyed in town, and popular attractions are the Kompong Trach caves with their ancient ruins and the durian and pepper farms. The little island of Koh Tonsay can be visited from Kampot town by boat. Visitors can enjoy long stretches of golden sand and tasty local crab curry

    Kampot is an up and coming tourist destination and the town has recently undergone many changes. There are a number of charming hotels, guesthouses and resorts in the towns of Kampot and Kep, while home stays can be found in the rest of the province. The province is connected to the rest of the country and Vietnam by well-maintained road

  2. Best of Luck with the rest of the language training...good to hear that you are seeing and experiencing so much....

  3. cheers for that your entry about Kampot it's almost like you've been there :-)