Otres beach, a little slice of paradise in Southern Cambodia
When you bus breaks down a mere 10 minutes after you’ve left the bus station – you know you’re in for a long ride. When you then wait in the swelteringly hot (and stationary) bus for an hour, finally switch to a new ride, drive around for an hour and a half and then notice a sign that states you are still in the very same city you started in – you think you’re never going to get out of the place!
And so our journey out of Phnom Phen and down to the southern coast of Cambodia began.
Although it seemed Cambodia’s capital had taken a liking to us and wasn’t quite ready to let us go, we did eventually manage to make it out of there without any further mechanical issues. The second bus of the day rattled its way south past rice paddies and tiny farming villages before we finally pulled into a rather dodgy looking hotel car park in the town of Sihanoukville.
Now Sihanoukville has developed a bit of a reputation for itself as a backpacker’s party haven – apparently something of a similar vibe to the islands and beaches in the south of Thailand. I’d heard a few mixed reports from people so when a little bit of online research revealed that a super chilled, far more attractive and less developed beach then those right by the town lay a mere 10 minute tuk tuk drive away my decision on where to stay was made for me…
…welcome to Otres Beach!
Almost as soon as we arrived we knew we’d made the right choice. Our home for the three languid and lazy days we spent at Otres was ‘Everything is Everything’ – a newly set up boutique hostel that offers dorm beds and gorgeous little wooden bungalow huts, right on the beach. Perfection!
Everything is Everything has been set up by Mike and Dani, an Australian couple who paid a visit to Otres Beach in the midst of a round the world trip, only to fall completely in love with the place. This resulted in them putting the travels on hold, buying the land on which the guest house now stands and getting started on creating what is now already a well-established little place with a fantastic vibe.
We had our own little wooden bungalow which although simple, was clean, sturdy and had everything we needed – for the grand total of $8 a night, you’ve got to love those low season rates! Besides the little bungalows and dorm rooms there was a huge restaurant and common area right on the beachfront with a beautiful (and massive) thatched dome roof. Dozens of chairs, couches and tables scattered amongst the area ensured that even if there was a little rainy season shower we still had plenty of space in which to unwind and relax.
The only thing we had on our ‘to do’ list for the next few days was paying a visit to the Vietnamese consulate in town in order to sort out or Vietnamese visas. We resolved to tackle this on our very first morning and it was honestly the easiest visa application I have ever done! We merely showed up at the (empty) consulate, filled out a one page form, gave them a passport photo and our passports were handed back to us with the visa inside of them in all of 5 minutes!
With all items on that ‘to do’ list now firmly crossed off, we settled back in at Otres Beach to revel in the pleasure of doing absolutely nothing at all!
Local women walked up and down the beach asking if we would like ‘massage, good massage?’ in such an adorable and well humoured manner that it was inevitable we were going to acquiesce. And wow, am I glad we did! For $5, one particularly delightful old lady smoothed away all signs of tension in my back over a thoroughly enjoyable hour spent in my beach lounger, leaving me feeling more relaxed than I had in a long time. She really had the hands of angel!
Will’s massage was apparently also equally delightful – although he was a little suspicious as to whether the massage was heading down the ‘happy ending’ path when she started enquiring as to whether he would like an extra massage inside his bungalow. Hmmm!
The remainder of our days at Otres Beach rolled by in a peaceful, relaxed and contented blur.
We wandered along the length of the beach, exploring the rocky headland that lies at the western side.
We also spent a great deal of time stuffing ourselves with delicious food. If it wasn’t the delicious breakfast, shrimp tacos or the cheesecake from our hostel’s restaurant, it was the delicious stir-fries and the Cambodian curries of the restaurant next door, Bamboo Shack.
I also fell a little in love with the waitress at Bamboo Shack, she was so unbelievably friendly and helpful. She even gave me a great big hug good bye after our last meal there. Adorable!
An abundance of pool tables and wide counters meant we were able to satisfy our competitive urges with some particularly aggressive games of pool, dominoes and cards.
As the sun steadily grew lower in the sky we would settle in at one of the many beach front bars for Otres Beach’s best past time of all, watching the sunset.
The sunsets seemed to coordinate perfectly with almost every bar’s happy hour so it was always with cocktail in hand that I was able to sit back and admire as the clouds reflected the rosy and enflamed colours of the sun whilst it slipped further and further away.
Like all good things though, our time at paradise had to come to an end. After a final morning spent lazing and watching the waves roll in, we couldn’t delay our departure any further and so strapped on our backpacks and bid farewell to our gorgeous little bungalow.
The few days we had at Otres were just exactly what I needed after the incredible but very confronting time we’d had at Phnom Phen. I left feeling revitalised, content and relaxed – and I honestly don’t know how you could leave from there feeling any other way.
EVERYTHING IS EVERYTHING – http://www.everythingbungalows.com/