Last week I had planned to go visit a client who had received a successful outcome in a case represented by IBJ, but was disappointed when I ound out he was was sick, and as a result it was not possible for me to travel to Prey Veng the next day. One of my colleagues and new friends, Pheakdey, was going to join me on this trip to help translate. I was particularly looking forward to going with him as he is originally from this province and was going show me around and introduce me to his family.
Fortunately, Cambodia is not a hard place to travel around with little notice, and with the office closed for two national holidays, I decided to travel to Kampot and Kep for a few days. Kampot is a small town in the south which is very quiet and relaxed, hugely dissimilar from Phnom Penh. Cambodia is a former French colony, and in Kampot there is lots of French colonial architecture alongside the picturesque Kampot river. It is also really close to Bokor Mountain, which I spent about a day exploring. At the top is Bokor Hill Station, an old resort town that used to be used by the French colonialists, complete with a dilapidated old casino that has been the scene of several ghost movies . While at the overlook on the top, there are some absolutely stunning views of the Gulf of the Thailand
The next day, I went to visit Kep, a tiny beach town about 45 minutes from Kampot. I was a little unlucky, in that I I picked the very first big rain of the rainy season to explore. I got there at about 11 in the morning, managed to get in a quick hour bike ride which took me around most of the town, and then the rain started and did not stop until the next morning. Kep is also a quiet town, and with the rain coming down there was not a great deal to see at night. I spent most of the evening hanging out and chatting with the Khmer-French family that owned the guesthouse I stayed at, it turned out to be good fun in the end.
An interesting fact about the rainy season is that during the first one, a ridiculous number of bugs that are stuck in the wood come out, but in a lucky coincidence for the first time since I have been in Cambodia I slept under a mosquito net. Waking up the next morning, my floor was completely littered with bugs and wings that they had shed when they come out. These days I am fairly desensitized to the bugs and lizards I see everywhere, but it was definitely a bit of a shock to see when I woke up.
At IBJ, I am making really good progress on my analysis of the work that has been happening in the provinces, and I believe I am on target to meet my self-imposed deadline of July 1st. Once I have completed this to a level I am happy with, I will start being more active with some of the other projects going on at the office. I think it would be really interesting to work on one project that was mentioned to me which would be looking at ways to update the public defender manual used by IBJ.