Travel Report: Kep Crab Market, Cambodia.
December 2015. What an oddly fascinating day we’d had wandering around the Cambodian ghost city of Kep. We’d strolled across tiny Kep Beach, admired the old flaky colonial villas and walked for hours down its neglected promenade. Along the way we exchanged greetings with sittin’ doin’ nothin locals and saw the dusty old amusement park rides. Literally the only thing left to do was go and see Kep Crab Market.
This meant another few kilometres of walking, with amazing views out across the coast. They say a crab dinner here is the quintessential Kep experience! Consequently, Wonderboy and I pencilled in a visit for dinner. Finally, closing in on our destination, we stopped and stood for a moment to admire the market’s multicoloured row of stilted shacks.
Kep Crab Market was astoundingly low-key. A young boy stands fixing a large fishing net. An old woman gazes out to sea. The restaurants meanwhile were only just starting to open, even though it was barely an hour before sunset.
Neither Wonderboy nor I were much into crab, nor indeed seafood in general. We just wanted to find a great sunset spot with a beer and a bite. The modest collection of restaurants here are a bit identikit, so we chose Holy Crab just for its cool name. It turned out to be a great decision, as they had the perfect sunset table available. So we headed inside in anticipation…
It was great sitting there looking out to sea with a couple of beers as the sun began its gradual descent. We were the first customers in Holy Crab Restaurant that night, though it didn’t take long for the place to start filling up.
Wonderboy took a when in Rome attitude to Holy Crab’s menu. After much deliberation, he went for a signature crab dish seasoned with the region’s famous Kampot pepper. I went for a local garden salad with calamari. The verdict on Wonderboy’s crab concoction? He liked it, but… just as he’d predicted… found the whole process of separating bone from meat both frustrating and unsatisfying.
Happily, any mild disappointment with the food paled into insignificance with that evening’s excellent Kep sunset. Furthermore, it was the perfect end to a highly eventful spell of Cambodia travel. Wonderboy and I met on the bus from Siem Reap to Battambang and got on so well we consequently teamed up for the rest of the trip.
There were several toasts to our adventures that night, from the bamboo train and bat cave chaos of Battambang, to sobering genocide insight in Phnom Penh. We’d lazed on the beaches of Sihanoukville and sailed to the remote island of Koh Rong. We’d toured the ghostly ruins of Bokor National Park and cruised the firefly-inhabited banks of The Kampot River. And it all ended here in Kep, with ice-cold beers, a mountain of crab bones and a commemorative, pinky-blue horizon.
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