Knai Bang Chatt. Try saying that three times fast. You should because it is worth getting to know. Knai Bang Chatt means a rainbow encircling the sun in Khmer. I wasn’t lucky enough to see any rainbows while staying at this resort in Kep, Cambodia, but I was consistently in awe of its beauty and minimalist look.
Kep-Sur-Mer was at one time the go-to destination for the rich French and Cambodians. Known as the Riviera of Cambodia or The St. Tropez of Southeast Asia, the well-heeled traveled to the area for sun and surf, building ostenacious villas with brightly colored bathroom tiles, multiple floors and private entrances. War and the genocidal Khmer Rouge left the area deserted. The villas were abandoned, stripped of everything inside. Converted from a handful of those villas, Knai Bang Chatt takes vistors back to what it might have felt like in the 1960s during the glory days.
Look at this and tell me it doesn’t look like a scene straight out of an old movie:
The details in the room were both noticeble (an open-air bathtub and a separate shower and toilet, which is not always a guarantee in Cambodia) and less obvious (water bottles were discreetly hidden throughout the room). The style is based on the Japanese philosophy of Wabi Sabi, which focuses on simplicity and modesty.
One of my favorite surprises about the room was finding two traditional kramas on the bed. The kramas, which were apparently made by local villagers, are used in a variety of ways in Cambodia: as a towel, scarf or for decoration. You can see them on the bottom right corner of the bed in this picture.
Like most stays at beautiful resorts, I felt my time there was too short and found myself daydreaming about what it would be like to stay just one more day. But that’s why it’s called vacation, right?