Over the next few days I took a bike and explored along the river side roads in every direction, there are a lot of great things to see from the rejuvenated pepper farms and salt beds to the farms and rice fields further up the river. There are also some great places to stay along the way with fantastic riverside bungalows and kayaks to rent and if your looking to get away from it all for a few days or weeks I can highly recommend a visit to Meraki up the river from Kampot.
Gentle days floating up and down the river smoking freely and stopping at different bars along the way for a coffee or a cold beer is a very valuable usage of anyone’s time. I can confirm its with full enthusiasm.
After catching up on some writing and floating around enough, I realised my substantial stash from Phnom Penh wasn’t so substantial anymore so I went back to town and started to explore the bar scene a little more and make enquiries into what was the best way to go about accessing some farmers and finding more of the local landrace growing on a small scale.
A lot of people were very helpful but I was becoming clear that gaining access to commercial farms was fraught with danger and in any case the genetics being grown there were certainly not the older Cambodian strains, so I had to start to formulate a plan of how to collect the kinds of seeds I was interested in.
Here you can see the clear difference between local landrace sativa dominant on the right and imported hybrid on the left
It was on the bar propping research trips that I found myself going back to the same place again and again. A brilliant bar Called ‘Top Cat’ run by a couple of Brits, Mark and Tommy who have been living in Cambodia for a long time and have made a good home for themselves amongst the community here. It was their advice and knowledge that really helped me to get back to collecting good seeds again.
The regulars in this place have seen it all and many through years of friendships and collaborations have gained access and trust from farmers in smaller communities. It was through some of these people that I started to get deliveries of fantastic local sativa dominant strains that had unique characteristics. From these samples I was able to start collecting viable seeds as well as sampling the buds they had come from.
It started to become a bit of a local joke! After figuring out I wasn’t just some kind of lunatic on a weird fantasy cannabis crusade, people started to bring in special weed in bags for me. I’d be at the bar having a chat and a big bag would plop down in front of me every few hours. Id buy the person kind enough a few beers and everyone was happy.
Over a few weeks I started to collect some very good seeds from great samples and most came with a decent amount of information about locations of production and if the strains seemed stable.
Every time a new batch of weed would arrive somewhere in town id get a message and I would head on over to the place in question and buy a decent batch of the weed if it was seeded and worth looking at. It was a fun way to collect but in no way a better substitute for actually seeing plants growing in their local area and talking directly to the farmers , but in some situations you have to adapt and do what you can , especially where there are security issues and permissions are needed.
At one point someone brought me 5 separate sativa dominant local strains to sample!!
I also started to get invites to growing areas that would require some meetings to be set up in the future with the relevant people concerned and trips started to be planned to get out into the most rural areas where mass production hasn’t taken over small scale local farming yet. All of this requires time, patience and good intentions. People can tell if you are greedy or ill-meaning and you won’t last long if you are not doing things the right way out in places like Cambodia.
I was loving Kampot and the people I was meeting here. There is a lot of fun to be had with bars staying open late with the doors shut and sunrise beers and spliffs on the river front a common occurence.
A small friendly town with great food and community and some truly superb cannabis easily available for very reasonable prices. People seemed genuinely interested in what I was doing and why, which gave me a great sense of motivation and inspiration. Here cannabis is really part of the culture of community and wherever I have found that situation, I have found a feeling of relaxation, safety and friendships. Also anywhere that buying by the bin bag load isn’t unheard of, is a fun place to be as a cannabis consumer.