Well, look at that, a week has passed and I haven’t written anything… That pretty much sums up life on Otres Beach.
After three nights in Phnom Penh the crew (Aimee, Beccy, Matt and myself) headed south to Otres, a tiny beach town near the better known Sihanookville. It had been recommended by some friends as a less busy, cleaner and nicer beach to chill out.
After the first day and night we liked the place but thought we’d stay just one more night…but obviously we had yet to truly embrace the Otres lifestyle, and each day we grew to meet more people, chill out more and delay our departure. Here I am on my sixth and final night!
It’s been a fairly uneventful but really fun week, hours spent lying on the beach taking in the occasional massage or pedicure from the passing hawkers, eating amazingly fresh and cheap seafood, downing Angkor beers and relaxing in hammocks.
One highlight was two days ago when one of the local bar owners hired a boat and driver and invited us to an island called Koh Te Kiev. Thirteen of us piled our swimmers, sunscreen and beers into the rickety wooden boat (about three safety vests between us!) and sailed out to an all but deserted tropical island paradise. I say all but deserted because we found our way to one of the two camp sites there and enjoyed an afternoon in the hammocks, swimming, snorkelling and even had a fresh fish curry and a beer for lunch.
It’s awesome having Aimee here, she flew in from Sydney last Sunday and within about ten minutes it was like we’d never been separated. Already loving having her here, and I’m sure there’s lots of adventures ahead, she’s here for two months.
Phnom Penh was good – it’s a bit of a gangster city, grungy, dirty but a great culture. There’s a growing alternative music scene. The Khmer also have a great family culture in the evenings of going out to public parks and waterfront areas for activities like soccer and these group dance classes – very funny.
We went to S-21 and the Killing Fields which were both intense – possibly more so than when I went to Dachau Concentration camp in Munich because these were less sanitised and the events more recent. Walking through the killing fields there were still fragments of clothing and bone at the sites of the mass graves. It was confronting to think that it all took place in the 1970s and the rest of the world didn’t even know what was happening.
On a much lighter note, the best meal of Phnom Penh was a local beer garden/restaurant with local specialities including ‘aquatic plant with ant eggs’ and ‘roti with chicken breath’. Thought some things had been lost in translation but we were actually served ants and their eggs in a garlic sauce with a spinach type vegetable, and chicken necks (roti apparently meaning rotisserie/BBQd and breath = throat/neck). Both surprisingly delicious! We also had some great fish and noodles and other yummies.
Anyway, it’s 3am here and we have a bus to Kampot in the morning, but I’m having trouble sleeping due to the party currently going on downstairs at our hostel, and the generator powering that party right next to our room! The real price of a $5 bed in paradise I think…