Paradise in Cambodia: Otres & Koh Rong Islands 

I had no idea Cambodia’s southern coast and islands were so gorgeous. Unlike Thailand, the Cambodian islands in the Siam Gulf are relatively undeveloped (although this is quickly changing) and some have only basic accommodation and limited electricity. Sihonoukville is the main hub of the south. It’s full of resorts, bars and litter and I’d recommend skipping it and heading straight to Otres instead. Otres is a five kilometre drive from Sihonoukville and as soon as you get there it’s like a breath of fresh air. There are two beaches, Otres 1 and Otres 2, with a small but lively village dividing them. The village is full of unique guest houses and hostels and there’s a great selection of Cambodian and western restaurants. There’s a very communal feel throughout Otres and in a few days we were saying hello to familiar faces on the road. Otres caters for everyone and is very much a relaxed family place as well as having a good music and party scene if that’s what you want.The beaches in Otres are clean and uncrowded with lots of leafy palm trees. There was a lovely lady who strolled along everyday selling mini-lobsters but otherwise there weren’t many vendors. Our time there was very lazy with days spent on the beach, in the sea, eating and drinking beer in the village. The sunsets are amazing too. The best one I saw was when I woke up after a very long nap, opened my eyes and the whole sky was painted with vibrant shades of orange and pink.After five days we realised we were getting stuck in Otres so we went back to Sihonoukville to get a speed boat to Koh Rong Samloem. Samloem is the smaller and quieter island of the two and takes only thirty minutes to get there. The speed boat dropped us at Saracen Bay where we had to wait for the slow ferry which would take us to our hostel at Driftwood beach. The ferry arrived but we had to wait for them to unload all the supplies brought from the mainland. They had all sorts on there! Furniture, cushions, ice blocks, veg, gas canisters and trays of eggs were being carried past us on a narrow pier so we had to be careful where we stood or we’d be straight in the water!We arrived at Driftwood pier just after sunset and wondered where our hostel was. There was an arrow pointing left so we followed it and got to the hostel after a ten minute walk which felt more like twenty. We stupidly had our big rucksacks so what should’ve been a lovely evening stroll was more of a sweaty trek. We later realised we could’ve paid a small amount to leave them on the mainland, definitely a better option. 

The main hostel area was lovely with random beach finds (including driftwood would you believe) hanging all around. It was the comfiest place with loads of cushion beds and hammocks overlooking the sea. Veryyy chilled. The hostel was a strange set up though as the dorms and bungalows were another ten minute walk down the beach and you are given a plastic bag with your bed linen to make your bed.  There’s no wifi at Driftwood and apart from the hostel there was nothing but a massive stretch of beach and the surrounding jungle. It you’re looking for isolation it’s the perfect place. On our second day on the island the sea turned so rough, and I mean huge waves! We ended up getting ‘stuck’ there for a few days and I know this really isn’t a long time and there are definitely worse places to be stuck but we were craving some civilisation, especially as we’d not long been in perfect isolation on Koh Ta Kiev. The hostel wasn’t very social so it made the time feel a lot longer. We did make friends with the resident goats though and they kept us amused for a while! Goats never fail to fascinate me with the way they can climb practically vertical surfaces. When the waves eventually calmed we got a long tail around the corner to M’Paibei. It was still very bumpy. I spent the whole time sat on the floor, ignorance is definitely bliss! M’Paibei wasn’t as pretty as Driftwood but the change of scenery made us very happy.  We went for dinner that night and Christie had her bag ransacked by a very cute local girl who then proceeded to give her a makeover at the table. She looked lovely! M’Paibei is where most of the locals live and there’s a little village with a school. One thing I noticed in Cambodia is how they swing babies in hammocks all day. They seem to love it!After several days on Samloem it was time to see what Koh Rong is all about. Approaching the island you can see rows of colourful boats and restaurants on the jetties. Koh Rong is a party island in comparison, but a very beautiful party island at that. There’s a beach strip with bars, cafes and hostels so it is a bit noisy at night time if you’re trying to sleep. There are also a few other hostels in quieter areas like Lonely Beach. Like Samloem there are no cars so all beaches are accessed by foot or boat. We were warned that everyone gets sick on the islands because everything and everyone is in such close proximity but we were alright. Just don’t swim near the boats where it’s all oily and you’ll be fine!

Hungover from our first night, we dragged ourselves out of bed and walked to 4k beach to slob in the sun. What a perfect place to slob! The beaches on Koh Rong are idyllic but 4k (as in kilometres) was my favourite. It’s just a vast stretch of white and turquoise blue. The sea was the clearest I’ve seen and it somehow cured our hangovers, to a certain extent. We spent the whole day being hungover clowns and talking absolute nonsense inbetween naps. It’s lazy Koh Rong days like these when thoughts of having to go back to the nine to five routine are nauseous. I never wanted to leave this beautiful little island!

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