Week 47: A Visit to Sleepy Kampot (Cambodia)

After last weekend’s bed bug (and sand fly, as we later realized) misery, I spent the majority of the week at home, in air conditioning, rubbing myself with hydrocortisone and popping Benadryl like candy.

One deviation from this was a visit to Tiny Toones’ studio.

Dancing with Tiny Toones

We learned a bit about Tiny Toones during our monthly junction and a group of us decided to take a class with them. We tuk’d out to their studio and learned about the founder’s story: he was one of the kids of the Khmer Rouge, who spent a couple of months with his family in a refugee camp in Thailand in the 70’s before arriving in the US as a documented refugee. Years later after getting into some trouble with the law, he served time in prison and during the Bush administration, was shipped back to Cambodia. He didn’t have anything but the clothes on his back – no contacts in Cambodia, no support, no money. As shocking as it is to realize one of the most advanced governments in the world acts this way, it was equally shocking that this man not only made it in Phnom Penh, but also devotes his life to giving back to the community.

Tiny Toones started organically as kids from the neighborhood began showing up to dance with these US expats and a community formed. They never turn kids away, and over the years have started including academic subjects like English and computer classes. There were a bunch of kids of all ages running around the studio complex, learning to skateboard. Tiny Toones doesn’t get government funding or support, and relies on paid classes and performances to support their efforts. And the kids are good. They are so impressive – no shoes, no fancy “dance wear,” but still backflipping and doing crazy breakdancing moves. It was great to dance again and in such an inspirational environment.

Kampot

I wasn’t really into staying in Phnom Penh for another weekend – big city life was getting to me – so I booked a last-minute trip to Kampot with fellow Remotes, Max and Liz. Kampot is a small, sleepy town a few hours away from Phnom Penh, and we had absolutely no expectations of plans.

Kampot maintains some of its French influences, with quaint buildings and a pretty riverfront. We stayed at the Makk Hotel, which had incredible service and beautiful bed dressings (Max and I started joking that we were on our honeymoon).

On our first night, we stumbled upon a legit concert. It was packed full of locals, with street food stalls selling all kinds of BBQ insects and meats lining the sides. There also must have been some major performers, as evidenced by the sound and light systems, which were on par with an outdoor festival in the US. We had fun observing and trying to understand where we were…

Aside from that, we spent our time at the pool at Makk’s sister hotel, enjoying riverfront dinners and cocktails at Kampot Fish Market, witnessing a beautiful sunset, and wandering the small town. It was so empty and laid-back – such a nice change from Phnom Penh.

Even though it was a quick weekend trip, I could see how people living in Phnom Penh would use Kampot as a regular escape or even live there for a few months. It seemed like a place where time stands still, in all the best ways.

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