Sihanoukville is a fairly laid back kind of place, casual enough in fact to be safely referred to as Snook.
We loved Snooks’ restaurants and cafes – me because I could stuff myself with lemongrass and ginger scallops BBQ’d in the shell – and Marty because whilst patiently foot tapping in an alfresco jewellery shop one night, he discovered that as well as jewellery, it sold french desserts. So weird and yet so wonderful. Maybe it came about because the owner of the Jewellery Shop was not only French, but a man who enjoyed his pastries. After that Marty was strangely supportive of my souvenir gathering, to the extent of making sure we swung by the Jewellery Shop after dinner each night.
While I dithered between the white drop earings and the blue, he was torn between a wedge of pear tarte tatin or tarte au citron. Walking downhill from the Sihanoukville Market one day we stumbled upon the source of the pastries – a Cambodian French patisserie complete with an old Cambodian woman finely slicing bucketfuls of apples by hand. Every so often the influence of the french in Indochina manifests itself in delightful ways.
From the Golden Lions Roundabout, Serendipity Road, the main tourist street leads downhill to the jetty. On the right lays Serendipity Beach which is really a rocky bay with rustic guesthouses tucked away amongst the boulders up the hill, and on the left is Ochheuteal Beach where bars and cafes spill over the boardwalk onto the sand. Beach Hawkers relentlessly pound the sand between papasan chairs selling tantalising seafood skewers, while land side of the boardwalk the many BBQ restaurants sport their seafood (and meat) in glass display cabinets, the contents comfortingly arranged on block ice.
Ochheuteal Beach was relatively clean and wide, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to swim through the first 15 metres of stained brown water to access the blue. Some luxuriated in it’s brownness – even a girl in a snowy white bikini – maybe she knew something we did not.
And so we hired a tuk tuk (remork in Cambodian but known as tuk tuks by all) for $5 and headed the 9.5km to Otres. Otres is a very long beach and the driver took us to a beach bar on the closest end (Otres 1) and by Beach Bar I mean nearly in the water bar. It looked like a great place to party, except we were too early for the party. For a further $2 he agreed to take us to the far end of the beach, known as Otres 2. Click on more options in the map below for the route.
This time we asked to be dropped at a bar called the Secret Garden which I had researched on line. The beach was wider out there and the resorts and bars further apart. With assurances from our driver that we could use the beach lounges for the price of a drink, we grabbed his mobile number and waved good-bye.
We don’t usually hang out at the beach all day, but it was so peaceful and so relaxing on the lounges that we remained glued beneath our thatched umbrella until 4 p.m.
Lunch involved walking three metres to the cool shade of the bar and collapsing into a comfy cane chair. My $5 avocado and prawn salad was literally 2 avo’s chopped with 15 (but who was counting) prawns, tossed with a little chopped red onion and chilli and surrounded with triangles of deep fried and home made tortilla. It tasted far better than it looked although I remember thinking I might never eat avocado again. Marty opted for a $6.50 burger with chips and devoured it with a smile that said it all. Fresh fruit shakes were $2 at the table or delivered to the beach. These prices were a little more than in town but considering we were at the end of a jolting no through road we were content.
A herd of unattended cows joined us on the beach reminding us of the Beach in Essaouira, Morocco. A pig sauntered up as well, but the terrier from Tamu Resort next door had issues with it and kept it at bay.
We loved it so much at the Secret Garden Bar and beach front that we asked how much it would cost to stay at the (loosely termed) resort whereupon the bar staff quoted 99 Euro per night (it was much cheaper on line). Nearly choking on my tortilla, I tried negotiating but they would not budge. Instead we decided to keep on staying at the Orchidee Guesthouse back in town which had a huge pool, air-con and breakfast for AUD35 a night and called our tuk tuk driver.
Before leaving I showered in their beautifully decorated and clean bathroom complete with a freshly supplied towel. We decided to leave before dark and return to Ochheuteal Beach for Sunset – there was a front row papasan chair with our name on it.
Keep out of the way Otres in mind when you need a peaceful escape from the wonderfully busy Sihanoukville. It was just what we needed toward the end of our Cambodian Experience.
Looking back to the Secret Garden Resort from the beachfront bar.
Beware of the Sun
Marty has fair skin and we live in the tropics so he knew to be careful. We spent six hours on the beach, apart from the odd swim we lay in the shade of the She Oaks and the beach umbrella. We both applied sunscreen regularly – Marty more frequently than myself – but even so he did get a little sunburnt.
Photo Thursday is happening over at Nancie’s Budget Travelers Sandbox so check it out for some travel inspiration.
While editing these Otres Beach photos I found some of the stunning sunset at Ochheuteal Beach that same night. Don’t miss the Sunset – Sign up for notifications or follow us on facebook or twitter.