Since my first visit to Cambodia in 2005, I have found myself using the common Khmer phrase “dancing road” to describe the impossibly potholed/rocky/muddy/flooded roads less and less. Sure, there are still areas where you measure the potholes in meters, it’s quicker to walk 20km than drive, and you have to negotiate riverbeds of dubious depths (see photo from Phnom Aoral adventure below). As the infrastructure has improved (remember the 12-14 hr. overland trip from Poipet to Siem Reap?) anyone looking for exciting trails has had to push further and further into the bush.
At the end of the day, though, most trails lead somewhere and you’re never too far away from the ubiquitous orange coolers, quaint villages, or, unfortunately, rampant deforestation.
And this is why I have grown to appreciate kayaking. Water has its own agenda and meanders where ever it chooses. With an inflatable pack raft (or a knife, banana trees and a bit of MacGyver-like ingenuity), you can reach some relatively hidden places. Or, at the very least, you get a very different perspective on familiar environments.
Case in point: I’ve enjoyed delicious crab with spicy Kampot pepper sauce from the various restaurants at the crab market and stopped to enjoy the view at the main beach in Kep dozens of times, but kayaking a few kilometers one morning along the coast provided a refreshing twist on a place I thought I knew like the back of my hand.