It is Saturday evening and I am at the weekly traditional music performance at Samon's Village (www.samonvillagekampot.com). A group of foreign tourists are savouring a buffet of traditional Khmer food.
These include a slow-cooked red Saraman beef curry - not unlike a Malaysian rendang but with star anise as a key ingredient. There are also bung chau rice-flour pancakes, with a yellow hue from the use of turmeric and stuffed with minced pork and beansprouts.
The first band of the evening mainly plays at weddings while the second is in demand for national and Buddhist celebrations. All are farmers who, in the dry season, supplement their income by playing traditional tunes.
Situated about 2km out of town on the banks of the Prek Kampong Bay River, unfortunately close to some backpacker party places, owner Samon has tried to recreate an idealised version of Khmer country life.
"I grew up in the countryside. That kind of landscape, even the smell of mud, the grasses, the rice fields, they are deep in my heart," Mr Samon tells me in English.
Later that evening, when I climb into my stilted hut, I realise I am not alone. Careful examination reveals a frog in the bathroom intent on serenading me to sleep.
The flavours of Khmer life still linger the next morning as I set out in search of Kampot pepper and its renaissance.
Every Parisian chef once knew that if he wanted the best pepper, he should choose Kampot pepper. As the country descended into chaos, pepper plantations were ripped up by Pol Pot guerillas - collective farms and enforced labour held no place for bourgeoisie crops such as pepper - or consumed by the encroaching jungle.
Today, thanks to geographical status protection and careful husbandry, Kampot is slowly regaining its pepper crown and production is growing.
Surrounded by pepper poles on a half-hectare farm, my guide takes up the story.
"My father told me people didn't want to come here. They were afraid of mines and Khmer Rouge soldiers," says Mr Meas Rim.
The area was a Pol Pot stronghold into the 1990s. Replanted in 2000, the early pepper crops fetched only US$1 a kg. It was not until around 2010 that, with marketing help, its reputation started to be restored and prices once again began to soar. It is around US$80 a kg now.
We ride on to the salt fields. It is the end of the day and workers are taking baskets of freshly harvested salt to the storeroom.
Mr Meas tells me that each month, they harvest 10 to 20 tonnes.
The season starts in December, with the canals and fields made from scratch each year, and harvesting lasting until April or May, depending on when the rains start.
Back in town, I am in time to catch the sunset over the river. Old colonial buildings line the promenade and now mostly house restaurants and guesthouses.
I choose to relax, though, in a cafe a few streets beyond and am surprised by a derelict-looking building opposite with speakers continually blaring bird calls.
Further exploration reveals that this is not the only building in Kampot like this and I discover it is all part of the lucrative trade in bird's nests.
By using speakers, the amplified sounds of the birds attract the swiftlets to nest in the building, making it easier to later harvest the nests made from their saliva.
Nearby, in the Old Market area, I visit the flagship store of Dorsu (www.dorsu.org). This social enterprise produces dresses and T-shirts from remnant cotton fabric while providing training and career opportunities and a fair wage to local women.
On my final day, I get to bring the local flavours together. Perhaps the most quintessential Kampot pepper dish marries the fresh green fruit with nearby Kep's famous crabs.
I start early at the market to buy the fresh ingredients. The crab snaps angrily back at me when I try to take its picture.
After dispatching the crustacean in the kitchen of a small restaurant during a cooking class, I divide it up. The dish uses a surprisingly large amount of sprigs of green peppercorns which, along with garlic, are the first ingredients to go into the wok.
Fish sauce, sugar and sea salt follow. The crab itself takes little time to cook, about five minutes, enough time to ensure that the shell gleams orange and that the meat is white.
As I tuck into my crab, I taste both the sea and the land. It seems that in Kampot, all you need do is add a dash of salt and pepper to bring out the local flavour.
• Mark Andrews is a Shanghai-based British lifestyle writer and photographer.