After a crazy month of travelling and partying full throttle across Laos and Vietnam, and after an emotionally draining couple of days in Phnom Penh, my body was crying out for a break. So after doing a bit of research, I decided to head for the coastline and to spend a few days relaxing on a beach somewhere. Sihanoukville seemed a natural choice being just a few hours from Phnom Penh, and a perfect place to spend a few days before heading over to Koh Rong which had come highly recommended from so many other travellers. I arrived in Sihanoukville around five hours later than planned after discovering quite how shocking the transport is in Cambodia, and as I mentioned in a previous post, was robbed as soon as I arrived. So I didn't arrive in the best frame of mind and when the heavens opened and a huge storm crashed around my hostel - One Stop - I decided to write the day off and go to bed. I woke up early and was pretty disappointed to see cloudy skies outside, but went out for a walk to explore the town with a girl I met in my hostel. I'll be honest, I don't know what I was expecting but the Sihanoukville was a drab, dirty place with way too many tuk tuk drivers lining the streets and leering at us. I spent a couple of days there but it was a power cut that finally made me switch hostels to a cheaper and better equipped one - Led Zephyr bar - down the road. I was really unimpressed by the social side of One Stop and the fact that they were the only place to not have a back-up generator and yet charged the most was ridiculous - even the pool didn't make up for it.I spent the next couple of days escaping each day from the town and heading to nearby Otres Beach with Naomi, here we could get away from the sleazy nature of Sihanoukville. Otres Beach is beautiful - it is one of my favourite places in Cambodia and one of the few places I actually enjoyed. I actually returned from Koh Rong early to spend the best part of a week staying at Otres Beach because it was one of the few places I actually felt comfortable and could avoid the hassle of staying at the other end. Serendipity Beach in Sihanoukville is pretty disgusting, with broken glass and various other treats lurking in the sand, and some really persistent touts who just won't leave you alone to sunbathe. I walked on the beach once and that was more than enough for me, Otres is far more untouched and is only really starting to be properly developed now so it offered the peace and quiet I was craving. For around a week I stayed there at Indigo on Otres which is one of the first accommodations you will find along the strip. I decided to treat myself a bit and paid for a bungalow to myself for the week which was a teensy bit more expensive but worth it to have my own space and a lock on my door - it made me feel a lot safer than I had previously.I spent my days lounging on sun beds outside hippie bar Blame Canada, which had the perfect combination of great food, tunes and a laid back atmosphere. I loved spending my days there chatting to backpackers, those on holiday and the guys who worked there. Being there in low season had a few downsides elsewhere like the lack of people to party with, but that was perfect for Otres - it meant I had the whole beach mostly to myself. My own Cambodian paradise! The days were spent swimming in the crystal clear waters and trying to avoid the odd jellyfish, eating fresh fruit and chatting to the ladies who wandered along the beaches offering massages. I can't deny I indulged a few times and found one woman in particular who gave the best massages. Followed by a fresh coconut - it was pretty perfect. My evenings were spent blogging, visiting the local market with some friends I met in Laos, and relaxing - something I hadn't had time to do for weeks. It was really great to have some time just to read and listen to music, to watch the stunning sunsets and take long walks along the bay. The weather was amazing, baking hot days usually with the entertainment of a crazy afternoon storm to cool things down a bit. I'm so glad that I made the decision to leave Koh Rong early so I could really appreciate Otres Beach.Another highlight was going to the market one evening - just a short tuk tuk ride away from the beach, it was a special event held on Thursday nights in the village. There was a huge selection of delicious food on offer including some great vegan and vegetarian options, pizzas, Mexican food and more. There were also some fabulous cocktail bars plus am absinthe bar, along with a few clothing stalls dotted around - one even offering to cover you in glitter and sparkles for a small donation. All of this was soundtracked by a fantastic collection of live bands and acts under a huge sky full of stars. It was a pretty perfect night and I would really recommend you all check it out if you visit. I would also recommend that you eat at Friends Forever at least once during your stay - it's an all white restaurant next to Blame Canada and it does amazing food. Apparently the pizzas are incredible, and if the pasta I had was anything to go by they must be pretty damn good. I'd also recommend my favourite dish - the spicy Asian salad was so tasty! Just a word of warning, although I felt this was one of the safest places I went in Cambodia, be careful on the road between Sihanoukville and Otres Beach. My friend was catching a tuk tuk back to Sihanoukville alone after we spent a day on the beach and a man jumped into the back as it went along the road and tried to rape her. She had to jump out of a moving vehicle to get away and the tuk tuk driver didn't even bat an eyelid. Don't get too comfortable and end up putting yourself at risk, always remember you are in a very much still developing country and travel with someone. Safety in numbers.
Have you been to Otres Beach - where did you stay? Can you recommend any other good places to eat and things to do?