Phnom Penh - sihanoukville - otres beach - kampot
27.01.2012 - 19.02.2012 37 °C
We left HCMC Vietnam early to get our 7 hour bus into Cambodia. The journey was really easy, we had to stop a couple of times to get our Visas stamped and that was it! Once we were officially in Cambodia the scenery completely changed. From dusty city streets to lush green countryside our first impressions of Cambodia were good ones!
We arrived in Phnom Phen in the evening ( friday night from what we can remember!) We didn't really have any expectations as we've learnt not to whilst travelling around certain parts of south east asia. Phnom Phen wasn't really somewhere we would chose to stay for a long amount of time. It was a hectic city but also the poverty was so much more evident here, something that takes a while to get used to. Anyway we found our guesthouse and decided to make the most of our time there.
Our first full day was spent visiting the "Killing fields". Words can't really describe what we felt that day, it was horrific to learn what the cambodian people went through and so recently too. We wont go into too much detail of what went on as we're pretty sure most of you know about the khmer rouge and Pol Potts regime ... something myself and Mike were completely ignorant to before we came to Cambodia. As tough as it was to see and hear everything we did at the Killing fields we learnt a lot, we also felt as though we could now understand and respect the local people and there lifestyle throughout our trip.
We were both quite emotional after that, It probably sounds abit extreme but its one of those things you have to see it to believe it.
Anyway! on to better things, after another day in Phnom Phen we booked our bus ticket to southern Cambodia (sihanoukville). We hadn't really heard great things about Cambodias coast but we had decided to check it out anyway, you cant beat being by the sea whilst temperatures hit 36 degrees! we arrived at a cheap guest house with in walking distance of a locals beach. relieved to finally be able to cool off we were on the beach with only a handful of tourists. The beach wasn't the nicest we'd seen but the water was warm and the tourists were few so we stayed for a few hours, had a swim and some food and then the next day we headed in search for a beach ( which is only really spoken about through word of mouth) It was called Otres Beach. The only way of us getting there was to hop on a motor bike each, backpacks and all!! The journey was interesting, apart from the road being full of pot holes and massive rocks the heavens decided to open on us too... and we don't say that lightly... we got SOAKED. Mike forgot to put his waterproof cover over his bags so that was already a bad sign luckily nothing got ruined and it only took 5 minutes for them to dry off in the glorious sunshine that appeared 20 minutes later! Our motorbike drivers dropped us off, drenched at the top of a hill... for all we knew we could have been anywhere , so off mike went to explore!( leaving me alone in a little shack..... with all of our belongings..... he was gone ages!) but luckily he had left me in the hands of a group of english tourists.... from Hampton!! of all places so i was quite happy chatting whilst he found us a gorgeous bungalow on the beach... he did good!! Otres beach was amazing. It was the most idylic beach we had seen, pure white sand, terquoise waters as flat as a pancake .. there were tourists but so few that you could have been on a private beach most of the time. We stayed here for 6 days... origionally meant to be a 3 day stay but when you look at our pictures you'll realise why we stayed longer. We met some great people here, Locals that made us feel so welcome and at home. Characters that we'll have to tell you all about when we get home! ( we've made sure to add them on skype too so you can meet them yourselves if you like!!!)
Our stay in Otres Beach was really relaxing more like a weeks holiday you would book yourself on and we had just discovered it! our bungalows were brand knew only be open since january 1s 2012 and very basic. The owner was still in the process of building the resort. Everyday something knew was being added. He was a lovely guy. After Otres we knew we had to claw ourselves away to discover some more of cambodia. We were in good spirit and totally relaxed and headed on a 2 hour bus to Kampot.
Anyone who would turn up in Kampot might be forgiven for thinking theres not much going for it it. It's a quiet town situated on a lovely river with buildings influenced heaavily by french reign architecture. We had heard a friend say that they loved it so much they stayed there for a week instead of a couple of days which is reccommended. at first we couldnt quite work out why (probably because we were still in beach mode!), but after you have had a couple of days and done the tours on offer it becomes quite an enchanting place. A few big plus's for us was a pub called the rustykeyhole and our guest house blissful. both two completely different atmoshpheres but both equally awesome. the rustykeyhole a must for any spare ribs lover or traveller in need of a good hearty meal. imagine a chilled out pub in england slapped by a big river and oh yeah glorious sunshine to actually enjoy that beer outside?! they also have a love for sport quite handy when the big games come on. Blissful at the other end of the spectrum was a chilled out guesthouse with a 'blissful' garden with hammocks where you could just spend time reading a book or recover from dodgy street food poisoning - something some of you would have heard about!
Just a quick note about Tours in kampot!! you have been warned.. if you had seen the sights perhaps 5 or 6 years ago you would probably have loved it or blown away by its mystical charm. however sadly now the only thing mystical about it is the weather which even though we were able to experience on the top of bokor mountain the other half of the experience no longer adds up. a chinese business man is in the process of well and truly turning it into a las vegas in the sky. building works of 5 star 12 stories high with 1000 rooms are mainly all that can be seen on the tour! we were taken to see a massive waterfall - which had no water in it. that says it all really - our advice if you do want to see it get yourself a motorbike and go up and see it yourself and see what you want to see!!