From Phnom Penh, it was a six-hour bus journey to Sihanoukville. Harmony and I booked the bus through our hostel and it only cost us $7 each. On the bus, the air con practically didn't work and we only had one rest stop but, when we approached Sihanoukville and saw the sea, we were overjoyed. We had seen nothing but cities for the past few weeks, so anticipation and excitement really started to build. We were staying a good 5km away from where the bus stopped, but it's always easy to get a taxi or tuk tuk from any Asian bus depot. We hopped in the first taxi that was offered to us, drove for about ten minutes and paid the driver $12. We were speechless when we arrived at Otres Beach!
Otres Beach is an amazingly idyllic location that offers lots of adventurous activities. It was obviously our first day though, so we were just going to chill. The hostel (Everythang Guest House) was right on the beach, so we spent the evening sitting in the reception/restaurant/bar watching the sun go down and the waves crash on the near-white sand. Jet skis zipped across the ocean and wooden boats bobbed around on the water. Everything (including our own little beach hut) had rustic, thatched roofs and bamboo furniture. Inside our hut was nothing more than a big bed, a mosquito net and a fan. If it weren't for the wifi and some other small amenities, we'd be completely emerged in nature. It was a hippie haven, and it was paradise! However, that doesn't make it luxury...
It rained throughout most of the days we were in Sihanoukville, and I mean tropical thunder
storms! Our hut was on the ground floor and flooded a few times due to the holes in the walls. These holes also meant insects and cockroaches could find their way in and even a cat wanted to come and cuddle at nighttime. Obviously, our mosquito net could protect us from the insects and the cat was just cute! The only downside to the beach is the hassle from locals trying to sell you fruit, sunglasses, bracelets and manicures. We found ourselves saying "sorry, no thank you. I don't need one" at least five times every hour. Of course, it's okay to occasionally cave in, but it probably creates a dependency culture for them.
After our first meal at the hostel, we decided that it was time for a nap. That's when it started to feel like we were at a music festival. Repetitive dance music came from all directions and the hut was shaking because of the rumbling bass. It wasn't a bad thing - we liked the vibe. When we woke up, it only felt right to have a few drinks on the beach, where we could watch fire dancers for entertainment. The owner poured everyone free shots (a mix of whatever left overs he had) and we were ready to go to a club that we had heard of. It wasn't far away but, apparently, the road wasn't the safest to walk on. So, we got a tuk tuk for $4 (a bit of a rip off) and soon arrived at the club. Even though it was a Saturday night, there were no more than ten people at the club, which was a shame because there was a swimming pool, good music and crazy lazer lights! Plus, you didn't have to pay to go in and there were free drinks from 11 - 12!
As I previously said, it rained a lot during our stay, but that didn't put people off from going for a swim. The sea remained a gorgeous green colour and, when the sand was shaken up, it created pretty patterns of a more muddy, brown colour. We would've liked to have gone quad biking, jet skiing or snorkeling, and there's also Kbal Chhay waterfall or Wat Leu and Wat Krom temples to see, but being stuck at the beach isn't half bad and the beach is Sihanoukville's main attraction anyway. I can't think of a better place to just do nothing!
In the evenings, it thankfully cleared up and we were treated to many spectacular sunsets. On one of the days, we ventured over to Serendipity Beach. There's a lot more going on there, but Otres is definitely the better beach of the two (in my opinion). A tuk tuk charged $5 for the trip and then he joined the queue of other tuk tuks on the main road, waiting and offering their service to possible passengers. Serendipity pier is filled with ferry and boat trip organisers, but it does offer nice views of the beach and the surrounding area from the sea. Running parallel to the beach were a lot of bars and restaurants, and a lot of people trying to get you to go into their bar or restaurant. Supposedly, there is a fireworks show every night on the beach, but we didn't see it. Perhaps we missed it whilst we ate at a good (but slightly overpriced) falafel restaurant.
The sky stayed clear of clouds on our last day in Sihanoukville. So, we could finally soak up some sun and have a short swim. The water was surprisingly shallow (perfect for playing catch or volleyball between friends), and it was just the right temperature. That evening, I was going to treat myself to a taco for the first time from our hostel. We loved the food there (rice, noodles, burgers, the breakfasts and the many snacks that are on the menu), but there kitchen unfortunately wasn't open. Instead, we tried another restaurant up the road called Chez Paou. The selection of food was fantastic and the portion sizes were proper platefuls, but there were millions of mosquitos that swarmed around us. Nevertheless, it was a really nice place!