Read Now, The Himalayan Tsunami - a gritting new novel by Vidyut Rautela
Remind me again what am I doing in this remote, forsaken town where I long to see even one person. Seriously, where is everybody?
Did I just walk into an apocalypse or what? I wonder if hoards of man eaters, walking dead would come dragging from all sides any minute now. I almost hope that those devourer of flesh would be of the slow kinds allowing me to make a run for my life.
I hail a tuk-tuk to the old market, streets are equally empty everywhere. It is as if I am back in Ystad. Ystad, a Swedish town which I visited back in the school days, went there excitedly on a school trip only to find it absolutely devoid of human souls.
Anyway, I get down and start walking around looking for a pad to crash but to my surprise most of the accommodation is full. What? Really?
Just were is everyone?
Finally, an owner of a guesthouse, a British oldie directs me to the backpacker street named backpacker street, convenient, eh?
There are unusually high number of expats living in Kampot, selling everything from a $1 burger (apparently it’s a total sell out) to running guesthouses.
I take a ‘fan’ room in Orchid guesthouse before going out to enjoy an evening walk by the waterfront. Did I mention Kampot has a large river flowing in the middle? The water is lovely and makes for a great spot to watch the sunset. Besides the old market which is where all the ‘action’ is located by its side. I see people and they are not jumping at me, I take a sigh of relief, no need to run, and definitely no need to shoot them on the forehead. They all are friendly, smiling tourists like me. I am in a good company.
I look up on the internet, yes there is internet here and it is blazing fast, and I am surprised to see there are plenty of fun things to do in Kampot. I take a deep sigh of relief, the trip is saved, right?
I hire a moped the next day, I don’t like the fact that I have to deposit my passport. But that’s the rule of the game. I drive straight to a bus operator and buy a ticket out to Thailand. I decide to go back via Koh Kong which is closer to the other crossing Poipet. I take a chance unsure about the availability of Thai visa at this crossing. I leave it up to the fate.
I know, I am a devout Hindu, God will certainly help me.
I fill the tank full and drive like a mad man to Bokor national park. It’s only about an hour away, and I enjoy the ride which takes me though the Cambodian countryside. I drive up on swooping, curved roads of the hill which is even more fun; on the way I pass the giant statue of Buddha.
I finally reach the ruined church, which looks as if it was made to look like a ruin. Interesting nevertheless. I follow the signs to walk upto a cliff. There is a bench there, I wonder why. Cool wind brushes my hair as I reach the top, wow! Just wow! The sweeping views of the jungle below and the sea ahead are simply magnificent.
I drive up ahead to a casino which too looks like a made up ruin. The developer abandoned the construction mid way but someone still ‘maintains’ the building. On my way back I visit Popokvil waterfall, a big mistake, well almost. First, of all it shouldn’t be called a waterfall as there is no water, maybe an air-fall? After all that talk of beautiful waterfall turned out to be hot air.
I make a detour to a lake. I am supposed to return but I see a signboard, I say let’s check it out. I keep on following the signs – which sometime tell me to take left and sometime to take right. I am on some sort of scavenger hunt. The lake is nice, blue pristine water set in a hilly landscape, but it is abandoned, with nobody in sight.
I turn my moped back as I wonder what it would be like if this place was full of people. It is almost a cliché to say, a house becomes a home when there are people living. I wish Cambodia gets as prosper as the neighbouring Thailand. It has suffered enough under hundreds of years of tyrannical rules, the people deserves every bit of happiness they can get their way.
The fuel indicator hangs dangerously low indicating that the tank could go empty any time. No, no, no! When the road is level I try keeping the pace steady, while on the slope I switch off the engine. Somehow, I manage to reach the park entrance; I am so relieved to see the gas station next to the gate. I am a devout Hindu; the light is with me.