Published: May 10th 2012March 2nd 2012
located only a few hours away from Kampot seems like a different world. We went from quiet and cosy to busy and very touristy. Even though we arrived just before noon all the beaches were already fully occupied by holiday makers and travellers. To our surprise this place still looked quite nice considering that there are only local bars and restaurants (Serendipity
Beach side). We opted for Otres
beach a little bit further away from the party epicentre but still walking distance to it all. We walked for 30 minutes or so and we could not find any decent place to stay. There are cheap hostels and guesthouses for 3$-5$ per night but we met people who told us how dirty they were and that there were bedbugs in their rooms. We like to travel cheap but not that cheap;-) We even went to a LP recommended K2Londge
and were astonished that the landlord lady wanted 8$ for a cardboard walled room (walls were literary made of paper and partially collapsing) with no bathroom and windows. In the end we settled for a nice room with a bathroom in a big guest-house across the road from Occheuteal Beach
(8$ negotiated down from 10$).
The first thing you notice about the beach (putting number of people and bars aside) is the blue colour of water. It was so hot that we could not wait any longer to just get in there ;-) We jumped into our swimming suits and head to the beach where we rested on beach chairs for the rest of the day, sipping cheap, happy-hour beer. It is hard to describe how we loved the felling of it!!! What we did not enjoy at all was this constant nagging: “Madam buy something?”, “ Massage Sir?”, Madame waxing?”
etc. Every 2 minutes or so there was somebody approaching us, sometimes criticising my pedicure (DIY type, but I think I am good at it hahha) or touching my legs to check if I happened to have some hair growing up.... madness!!! Just for a joke, after I put a new nail polish I went to all the 'pedicure ladies' and showed them my toes haha They said „Ooooh, nice madam, nice”
and smiled to me, then asking to give them business in a few days;-)
Water was fabulous, warm as in a bathtub;-) Sihanoukville beach is
not a paradise beach – there are no palm trees etc but it has this special charm that is difficult to describe. It is even more charming in the evening when all the beach chairs are swopped for little tables and cushioned chairs, candles and lanterns are lit and romantic music played in the background. Later at night all the bucket bars open their parties (1$ per bucket promo) and people have their chance to drink, dance, vomit and sleep on the beach till early morning, when they wake up without their belongings but with massive headaches or bruised faces hahha We heard so many stories in our gusethouse after they finally came back home. Some were attacked when drunk, some simply forgot how their evening ended up and some were really mad at themselves for loosing a lot of cash (or/and documents) in this stupid way;-) It was almost impossible to walk th ebeach early in the morning because of all the plastic waste after parties. At least most bars and restaurants clean it before breakfast time.
We wanted to take it easy with sunbathing so we decided to only head to the beach after lunch. Having learnt
from last day experience we walked 2km away from the main beach (daily exercise) to Otres Beach
where we had sand and ocean just for ourselves. There is only number of people who decide to escape the epicentre in order to relax. Maybe like us they don't need anything to buy or have their back waxed? We loved it there – swimming, reading, talking without being disturbed at all. Water at Otres Beach is very shallow so you can basically lay down and read a book in a water;-) The only disadvantage of this place was its far proximity to our favourite restaurant – Navanahs
(located on the corner just opposite the K2Lodge). It was the cheapest place by the beach but also serving amazing food. Their menu was so extensive that it would take you weeks to try everything;-) We ate there every single day, every single meal when in Sihanoukville and we loved every dish they produced. Our favourite must have been Barracuda in Tropical Salsa and brochetas with veggies and mozzarella (real mozzarella – our first since we left home).
They seemed to have regular customers every night and also they offered very cheap Sorya Bus
tickets for their customers only (we paid for a bus to Battambang 10$ each where every other place sold them for 13$ and above). We only really visited bars on the beach in the evening to have some beer and soak in the fantastic atmosphere of this place. Unfortunately we also saw some really upsetting things like hungry children eating out of plates left by tourists or some poor mother feeding her baby with food scraps;-( We gave some money to beggars but that doesn't really change anything. It was surprising that with all the food being prepared by the beach locals would not help those in need (as I assume this mother would prefer to ask a restaurant owner for food rather than do what she did). We thought about the parties and even felt like going but by the time evening came we were exhausted by our beach time and felt like having a great meal, beer on the beach and then watch a film rather than party. Call us boring but hey, we are here to enjoy ourselves;-)
We did not want to leave but after 5 days on the beach, getting a little bit tanned
and reading a few books we were ready for some Cambodian culture. We decided to go to Battambang first to take a slow boat to Siem Reap. One of the guys we met in Sihanoukville mentioned it is a must do experience. Battambang is a small and so-so town, nothing special with the exception of number of clinics and pharmacies. There is literary pharmacy in every second shop and there are always queues. We started to joke between ourselves that it must have been the town where all hypochondriacs leave hence the demand for doctors and medicines. When waling the street one evening Tomek was bitten by some insects (we think flies) and sot massive allergy to this bites. Half of his body was covered in chicken-pox like spots that were really itchy. I guess we found ourselves lucky to be in place where you can get any medical help just round the corner hahha. Antihistamine and anti-bite lotion helped within few days;-) When we arrived we wanted stay in a Royal Hotel but it was full so they directed us to their new, sister establishment – Asia Hotel (7$ a night). It was really lucky as opposite of this
place was newly open vegan restaurant serving delicious veggie burgers and soya ice cream;-)
We were told that boat trip to Siem Reap was not recommended because of a very low water level in a river so our plan did not work out. Of course we could have done it but most of the journey would have been done by minivan so what is the point of paying 20$ each when bus costs 4,5$? As we already made it there we decided to stay longer and explore some temples outside of the city. We can really recommend the hill top Wat as there is plenty to do and see and you can plan the whole day around this place (14km outside of town – 10$ for Tuk-Tuk return). There was this bamboo train to visit as well but we did not find it to be amusing enough so we skipped it. We did nothing else really in Battambang – relaxing, again took most of our time;-)
There are more photos below