The Kep Crab Market: The Specialty of Kep

Kep is a humble little town in southern Cambodia. Situated right on the coast, it enjoys a variety of delicious seafood, but is known largely for one specialty: the amazing fresh crab from the infamous Kep crab market.

Crab basket, Kep, Cambodia - YourLocalKatThe crab market isn’t much more than a hundred square feet, part covered, part not, at a pier that runs parallel to the shore. This is where the women, fishermen’s wives and other family, clean the caught crab, package it up and ready it for vending.

Fishermen's wives packing crab. Kep crab market, Cambodia - YourLocalKatOther women sit at the tables prepared in the square selling the crab, fresh or grilled, along with mouth-watering squid and shrimp and fish, served with rice and ready to eat. Among them are women frying pastries – waffles and cakes made from batter, sesame and sugar, as well as tables loaded with pepper, the other specialty in the area, in various colors and sizes and packs.

Crab Market, Kep, CambodiaAt other stands still, the women smile and show off plastic knickknacks and toys, feather dolls, shells, and jewelry: the perfect place to get a souvenir of woven wood and sea shell bracelets, particularly fitting and prominent in this beach side town.

Bracelets bought at the crab market. Kep, Cambodia - YourLocalKatRight beside the market runs a sidewalk lined with restaurants that open out to the gulf. They all have nearly identical menus with rice and noodles, and fish and squid and crab and shrimp (for $5!!), and are a wonderful way to hide from the sun or watch it set over the water, and let the time go by.

Fried fish, Kep crab market, Cambodia - YourLocalKatThe market remains open until late afternoon as the local women do their shopping for the day, their sound a steady seagull caw covering the whole market, hawking and negotiating and buying and chatting and inspecting.

The crab market is life as it is lived here, a peek into the inner workings of this society, a snapshot of resources, tourism, and culture.

It’s not just the deliciousness of the crab – touched but not yet spoiled by tourism, it is the raw authenticity of the market, the genuine friendliness of the people, and the humbleness, the humbleness of this life – that is the specialty of Kep.

Fishing boat anchored near Kep crab market, Cambodia - YourLocalKat

Photo of the Week: Gas Station in Kep

Ok, there do exist actual gas stations in Cambodia, even one or two in the small town of Kep itself, but for motorbikes and scooters, this is usually it.

Gas station. Kep, Cambodia - YourLocalKatActually, three whole different colors of gasoline, in a barrel, is a LOT.

In many parts of southeast Asia, particularly anything right outside of town, what you’re most likely to find when you go searching for gas is a cart at the side of the road with old whiskey bottles filled with yellow (regular) gasoline.

If you’re lucky you’ll stumble upon some bottles with red liquid – that’s the recommended stuff and goes for 5,000 riel per liter, about $1.25 US.

Gasoline whiskey - YourLocalKatAnd then sometimes you’ll find a barrel with a hand pump, like above. A hand turn pump pulls the gasoline from the barrel into the clear holding container on top, and the hose brings it down into the bike. Measurement lines on the container clearly distinguish the liters so you can physically see how much gasoline is put into your tank.

And like almost everything in Cambodia, it’s usually a family business, which means as long as you can get your tank open (…we couldn’t) someone will be there to take your money and pump your gas ;)Boy with gasoline. Siem Reap, Cambodia - YourLocalKat

Photo of the Week: My First Moto of Four

Oh I was SO excited to see my first four on a motorbike! I’ve been seeing threes everywhere up until that point, but after almost two months I wanted more, MORE!

The opportunity was finally presented to me in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where the traffic was even more of a gongshow than…well, anywhere I’ve been up until that point – babies hang off shoulders, ladies sit politely sideways, twelve people can fit in a tuk tuk for five, and a dad can drive all three sons to school on a motorbike.

Four on a moto. Phnom Penh, Cambodia. YourLocalKatThe best part of this photo is that I managed to take it.

Why?

Because two weeks later, within minutes of arriving in Kep, I saw a motorbike with six kids/teens/babies on it. SIX. But there was no way to grab a photo in time.

The worst part? Two days later I saw one of SEVEN.

Siem Reap: More than just Angkor

Arriving at Siem Reap, the town at the foot of the Angkor temples made infamous by Tomb Raider, I expected a small, dusty town trampled by tourists as they did their token three days at Angkor Wat before they moved on to bigger and better things.

Walking among giants. Siem Reap, CambodiaI was wrong.

Siem Reap is a huge tourist destination (about 3 million visitors a year) but this means it’s actually quite expanded. On top of that, because of its history – Siem Reap means a “flat defeat” of the Thais for one thing – there is quite a lot of culture lurking beneath its touristic façade:

First, there’s the exquisite French Quarter which houses the fancy resorts, the National Museum, and a stunning park lined with tall imposing trees filled to the brim with bats.

Then there’s the lovely riverside for strolling along, dotted with colonial style houses and local restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

There’s an Old Market area where the locals shop for fruits, seafood and clothing, which is also filled with food stalls and souvenir stalls and almost any-trinket-you-can-imagine stalls.

There’s the Night Markets, where women weaving traditional Cambodian scarves blur with local entrepreneurs selling original printed teeshirts that blur with everyone in between hocking patterned dresses and souvenirs.

Walking towards the Night market. Siem Reap, CambodiaAnd of course, there’s the silk farm you can tour, the Artisan center, a floating village, a bird sanctuary and performances of the traditional Apsara dance that you can view.

And for some nightlife, there’s Pub Street, which, yes, has a large red neon sign that points to it, but is actually not that horrible, and has decent restaurants and bars including the Temple Club which features free (and good quality!) Apsara dances every night.

Angkor Wat...reconstructedThe reason most people visit Siem Reap is for the Angkor Archaeological Park, and the temples are well worth checking off the tourist to-do list.

But Siem Reap was an unexpected darling in Cambodia that offered not only temples fraught with history and religion, but also a steady dose of culture and nightlife that I just wanted to inhale.

I wish I stayed longer. And I definitely hope to come back.