The past few days have been pretty great. After deciding to skip Kratie and it's long journey, we evacuated Phnom Penh to the seaside town of Kep, about 170km south on the Cambodian coast. It was a quiet little place, we took a stroll around a ring road in the nearby national park and through the town, which is littered with abandoned French-styled stone houses from the colonial era, most in complete disrepair and overgrown. That night we took a tuk tuk to Kompot, a town about 35km away.
Today we tore up the Cambodian countryside on rented scooters, and I must say driving in Cambodia is twenty times easier, relaxing, and more fun than driving in India. I still had to watch out for cows and wild dogs though. We had planned to take the scooters to Bokor Hill Station, an abandoned French resort on the mountain west of town. Unfortunately the road to Bokor was closed for construction. Instead we took a drive to some supposed waterfalls, which turned out to be dried up due to a new hydroelectric dam being built upstream.
We then headed to a zoo near there, which was definitely an odd experience. It looked as if once there had been quite a bit of money put into it, but everything was long since neglected and has fallen into disrepair. An old ferris wheel and small rides sit unused and rusting, the concrete waterpark is empty and cracking, and the animal cages are dirty and overgrown. The animals themselves are obviously sad, as you could see when the chimpanzees would hold out their hands to be fed, something that obviously doesn't happen enough. I felt sorry the most for the otters, who's ponds are completely layered with thick algae. You could see it the most in the tiger, who paces back and forth in her cage, which I've heard is an obvious sign of stress.
The end of the day was more positive, with a good plate of excellent spaghetti for lunch and an awesome scooter ride to a Wat south of town, where we were guided through a network of caves full of bats and small Buddhist shrines, then to a Stupa that had excellent views of the countryside. Tomorrow we head to Sihanoukville, the beach resort town of Cambodia.