The end of the world

After 3 weeks of living out of my backpack and performing my tour guiding duties it’s been really nice to stop.  I arrived in Kampot on Tuesday and settled in to My Parents Guesthouse which is so lovely that I intend to make it my home for the foreseeable future (more about my new home to come in a future post).

A slob day on Wednesday consisting of snoozing, reading, snoozing and generally not doing a lot has restored my energy and so this morning I kicked off operation life in Kampot with avengance.

In my fantasies about what this chapter of my life would look like, regular early morning bike rides featured heavily and so at 6.30 this morning I got myself up and dressed and hopped on one of the guesthouse rental bikes to head off on an adventure.

I pootled along the main road towards town and the river, deciding on a whim to cross the bridge and explore the opposite bank.  I’ve already experienced a little of what a right turn entails – it’s the route to the railway bridge I explored with my good friends Dina & Phirum and also the fabulous Banteay Srei Womens Spa and therefore chose to turn left.

 

A tarmaced road peppered with houses and shops led me to a landmark I’ve often gazed upon as I marvel at yet another Kampot sunset but never before visited – the small rickety bridge joining Fish Island to the mainland.

 

Once over the bridge the road soon turned to red dust, the traffic thinned and the only noise accompanying my journey was that of the birds and beasts of the Cambodian countryside.  Further along and the shubbery that lined the route thinned to reveal mile after mile of salt flats, the weak watery sun reflecting off their silvery surfaces and here and there a salt worker slowly performing the tasks of harvest.

Before long the road turned bumpier and decidedly soggy, clearly they’d had rain overnight and quite a lot of it.  This made for a precarious and much slower ride as I negotiated craters and skid tracks, conscious as I was of not wanting to end up caked head to toe in the thick cloying red clay the dust roads had become.

As my journey progessed the homes become more scattered, signs of life limited to fields of water buffalo and the odd street seller meandering along.

On turning a corner I came upon the local primary school and was soon bathed in a chorus of hellos and their accompanying waves.  The calling faded and was replaced by the sounds of chanting monks – a death ceremony bringing the villagers together to eat, chat and celebrate the life of a loved one passed on.

And then there was silence.  Just me, my muddy bike and endless salt fields.  As I stood in the middle of the track gazing in awe at the barren landscape in front of me a breeze more at home on Crosby beach whistled past  adding to the desolate yet beautiful surroundings I found myself in.

I’m not sure how long I stood in that one spot listening to the silence of what in some ways looked and felt like the end of the world but I do know that it’ll be a long time before I forget the experience and I will certainly be returning again during this chapter of my new life in flip flops.

 

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