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?
I tend to stay away from markets nowadays – my minimalist personality gets overwhelmed by all the stuff – but I was in need of some cotton pants and sunglasses, so I made the 20-minute trek to Russian Market.
Named for the Russians who frequented the market back in the 1980s (so says my guidebook), it’s full of nearly everything imaginable: tools, housewares, cleaning supplies, clothes, bags, purses, jewelry, books, movies, sunglasses, food and drink. Some of the name-brand clothing that is made in factories here in Cambodia can also be purchased for a tiny fraction of what you’d pay for it off store shelves in the U.S. or Europe.
Unlike some markets, this one is not open air, and vendors are crammed in row after row, often making it difficult to maneuver past people. If you’re claustrophobic, watch out. Still, it was very interesting and enjoyable to see up close. I may actually go back for a few items for friends and family near the end of my time here. I ended up buying a pair of pants, sunglasses and an iced coffee for $5 total. Not a bad deal at all.
I was in desperate need of a beautiful beach and my passport was stolen. Thus, a last-minute trip to Puerto Rico.
Days before booking trip: 7
Hours my first-grade pen pal (and good friend) had before deciding to join me and stepping foot on the plane to meet me: 8
Pairs of sunglasses lost in the Caribbean Sea: 1
Fitbits lost in Old San Juan: 1
selfies taken between the two of us: approximately 20
Miles walked in the rainforest: 4ish
Number of waterfalls seen: 2
Tropical storm warnings issued: 1
Hours we couldn’t order alcohol because of impending weather: 2
Important life discussions that took place: 20
Important life questions resolved: 0
Bottles of wine consumed between the two of us: 6?
(P.S. Look for an upcoming story or blog post that actually gives recommendations on what to do and see in Puerto Rico.)
I’ve always heard that couples sometimes start dressing alike. It makes sense, right? You have similar interests and lifestyles and so it eventually shows through what you put on your body. But is the same true for friends, too? I’m not sure.
Either way, I noticed something funny when I was waiting for the ferry to go to Mykonos to Santorini: people traveling together who dressed alike.
Some of these may have been a bit of a stretch, but looking for examples also helped me kill a few hours waiting for the ferry. It became a game for me to find “travel twinsies.”
Here are a few examples of travel twinsies I came across. Keep in mind these pictures were taken as I tried to pretend like I was using my phone for something else or talking on it.
And yes, you could also say I was stalking.