Kep...or Kaip

After Kampong Som, Andrew and I ran away on our own to Kep for a weekend. Kep (pronounced KAIP, like AI = long "I" sound) is about 3 hours east of Sihanoukville and a tropical paradise of its own. I told Andrew I thought God might be calling me to Kep. Or, probably not - just my wistful desire to live somewhere this green and beautiful!

The views from the guesthouse balcony, overlooking the pool at the mountains of Kep

So lush and green!

I promise we didn't go to Kep just to be lazy. I actually ran my first 10k race. What a way to celebrate my 25th birthday! 

While planning our trip to Kep, we remembered a 10k race that would be held that same weekend, to benefit an NGO called Bridges Across Borders Cambodia (BABC). BABC works in multiple areas, such as community development and empowerment and advocacy for victims of illegal/unethical land evictions. We figured it would be a great chance to see Kep, run, and raise some money for a good cause.

The day before the run, BABC also held a 10k bike race, which went right by the Vine Retreat, the guesthouse we were staying at. We went outside to cheer on the bikers. Some of them looked pretty wiped out, which is understandable, considering the bike race was held at 3 o'clock in the afternoon!

You might have noticed the bikes weren't your typical mountain bicycles. In fact, all the bikes ridden by the races were new ones, purchased with the race fees. After the race, the bicycles were donated to local schoolchildren to get them to school on time.

We also took time to explore the grounds of the Vine Retreat. Not only a guesthouse, the Vine is an eco-lodge and has an organic farm and black pepper plantation as well. We wandered around a bit, enjoying the scenery.

Raw pepper, still on the vine

Sunday morning, Andrew and I got up before the sun and were driven in a circa-1980's Land Rover that rattled like a death trap to the starting line. Only perhaps 50 other people were running the 10k race that day. As soon as they blew the whistle (no starting gun shot for this race!), Andrew was off and way ahead of me. I took my time, enjoying the scenery and the villagers squatting by the roadside, waving at us, or just staring at the sight of 50-some foreigners running down the dirt road.

Andrew finished at 51 minutes, and I wasn't too far behind at 59:02. I had made running goals at the beginning of the year, and I checked them both off at one swoop: finish a 10k without stopping to walk, and doing it under an hour. Sha-zam! Not too bad a way to celebrate turning twenty-five years old!

Andrew & I after our run