Driving along the South coast of Cambodia, I began instigating to our non-English speaking driver through the rear view mirror to slow down whilst the onslaught of hulking rain drops battered the wind screen. Even though I have been in Asia for just under 4 months now I still occasionally get frightened by the manic driving that comes with every journey. The cutting corners, risky over-takes and rushed frenzy makes putting your life in the hands of a hurried maniac who can barely see a metre in front of him sometimes a reality difficult to swallow. As each road trip ends I count my lucky stars that we had made it to our destination safely. We were dropped off on a dirt road, a crimson red path that looked like it was stained with blood, a cruel reminder of the days when the Khmer Rouge ran wild in these lands, a time that buried this countries freedom. I have grown to already love the Khmer people. They’re smiles are irresistibly infectious and they’re grace and passion that comes with serving a customer or offering you directions obviously comes from the loving children of a dismantled generation. As we walked along the dirt path we were surrounded by thatched Guesthouses, labourers taking an afternoon rest and small children kicking empty plastic bottles.
As the rain began to pick up again we adjusted our full backpacks and picked up the pace, striding along a river that ran through the heart of Otres Village. Sihanoukville, about 6km away is legendary for two things; being a party town and for being a rubbish party town. Instinctively we decided to stay in Otres Village, a small settlement parallel to the beautiful Otres 1 and 2 beaches. The place we were staying at was called Mangroves and More which is a prodigious arena of expert craftsmanship and woodwork. We stayed in a wood cabin that was as basic as it comes, nothing more than a double bed, mosquito net, a fan and some shelves. Literally all you need when travelling Cambodia. The two guys who run it are called Maik and Marcus, two German guys who met in Switzerland whilst working as chefs at a 4 star hotel. After travelling together for a year they decided to set up shop in Cambodia and start their own business, something they are doing very well at. Accompanying MandM are their two adorable dogs who would excitedly run around the grounds chasing dragon flies and looking for frogs. Anyone who knows me well will recollect I have zero knowledge on the different breeds of dogs so below is a picture of Maik playing catch with them.
- See – mangroves alligned parallel to a staitionary bodie of water whilst local kids cycle on their bikes along the red, dirt paths.
- Smell – the only smell you will experience is Otres is marijuana. People openly smoke and roll everywhere in the village, whether it be in a restaurant, bar or on the beach. I saw a guy with a clear through plastic bag with at least an ounce in it and overheard him saying it cost him £5.
- Touch – rather than what you are choosing to feel this is a bit more like what is touching you. Constantly, every second you are outside flies, gnats, mosquitos, horseflies, wasps, bees and hornets are landing on any bit of flesh you have uncovered.
- Hear – with its tropical climate the distinguishing sound of anywhere in South Cambodia is thunder and lightening, it happens at anytime and any place.
- Taste – the delicious Khmer food. Fortunately with Maik and Marcus chef attributes we have been having some amazing breakfasts. And there’s a place about a 5 minute walk away could Tony’s which serves the best eggplant in the whole of South East Asia.
I hope that sums up so far the vibe of Otres Village exactly how it is.
The title ‘Rainy Season in Otres Village’ wasn’t thought of out of nowhere. Throughout our time in Otres the heavens opened and it rained for the majority of the time. Choosing this place for its exotic beaches meant that whilst it was raining there was certain limitations on what we could do. For the most of it we sat in one of Otres’many sheltered reading spots whether it be a wooden cocoon hanging above a river or lying comfortably in a hammock overlooking the mangroves. There is nothing more peaceful than reading and hearing the raindrops all around you. I managed to read 2 books in 3 days which highlights how much it rained here. As soon as the skies began to break we hollered at the gardener who also has his own tuk tuk to take us down to the beach so we can enjoy the dryness whilst it lasts.
The talk of the town on our last night in Otres was a local wedding that was going on aswell as a hip hop night in the old night market. Bizarrely the Cambodian jungle has more going on than my hometown sometimes. We partied the night away until we couldn’t bare to drink another Klang.
In my opinion travellers coming to Cambodia would much be better suited staying in Otres Village than Sihnoukville. Also to fully enjoy the relaxed beach experience I would not recommend coming in rainy reason. Somewhere in between November and May is an ideal time to visit.
I write this surrounded by my mosquito net, hungover and dehydrated. Tonight we are getting a 10-12 hour night bus to Siem Reap, home of the latest religious site in the world, Angkor Wat. For the first time in my life I am going on a bus with double beds. That’s right, me and Georgia are sharing a double bed on a bus. It certainly will be interesting and will let you know how it goes on my next post!