Beach Bums

Even though we still had some shopping left to do in Phnom Penh, we decided that we had enough time before Margaux left to head down to the South Coast of Cambodia to visit its white sandy beaches. Sihanoukville, four hours from the capital, is the main resort destination in the country, becoming more and more populated with tourists trying to escape the Thailand beach crowds.

We boarded an early morning bus and arrived in Sihanoukville by lunch time. Weeks earlier, we had met a couple from Quebec City, who had given us the name of a remote beach hut that they had really enjoyed. They warned us that it was quite "rustique" but very quiet and owned by a lovely family. I had scribbled the name of the guest house on my notepad and had kept it in my bag since then. On arrival at the bus station we hired three motorbikes to drop us off at Otres Beach, they didn't recognize the name of the guest house, but we knew/hoped it existed.

What we had failed to factor in to our calculations was the fact that it was Chinese New Year and a holiday in the country. My motorbike driver recounted to me, as we drove towards the beach, that he had driven around the night before with a tourist for over an hour, trying to find space in a guest house and she had eventually found a place for 50$/night. Panick took over me, I couldn't bear the thought of telling Margaux we would be sleeping on the beach, but I couldn't bear the thought of spending 50$ for a room either.

Otres Beach is 8km away from the main beaches of Sihanoukville, and has no listings in the Lonely Planet, which definetely helps keep it quiet and untouristy. As we rode down the dirt road lining the beach I spoted the name of the guest house on a small hand written sign and signalled for our drivers to pull over. My driver replied that we were out of luck, as the guest house only had two rooms and he had dropped people off the day before and they had taken the last room. I felt dejected, (no backup plan). As we were pulling away the owner's niece (the only one in the family who could speak English) came running towards and said that we could sleep on the floor of the attic. It was in fact the family's own room, which they were offering to us (there were two mattresses on the floor). The price: 8$ a night. Wonderful!

We settled into our room and headed for the beach (about 10 feet away). There were crowds of people spread out under the beach huts having picnics. I didn't feel that the place was exactly peaceful until mid afternoon when everyone starting packing up to go home. Then we had the beach to ourselves and the hammocks to ourselves.
According to one of the other guests (who had been there for almost 2 weeks), the place had been deserted, until Chinese New Year, when Cambodian families come to swim and picnic every lunch time. We still had the sunset to ourselves and got to listen to the waves crash against the sand and have the wind blow on our faces as we lay on the attic floor.

On the first night there, Yann and I awoke to the sound of Margaux yelling. Something had brushed up against her leg. Of course our immediate thought, mice. Yann decided that he had found a mouse turd in his hair and I was quite convinced that something had dashed across my mattress. All of this was being discussed in the pitch black in our half awake states, but we were pretty convinced that we were under attack. Margaux, who had sounded the alarm, was pretty quick to get back to sleep, but Yann and I weren't so lucky. Anytime Yann brushed up against me I would jump up and proclaim that I had felt a mouse.

The next morning, after Margaux decided that she was probably dreaming, and we found that all of our food was untouched, and there was no sign of Yann's mystery mouse turd, we concluded that there probably were no mice, and slept well that night.

Our two days on the beach were basically filled with swimming, reading, crossword puzzling, hammocking, drinking and eating. I spent quite a bit of time entertaining the young sellers who didn't feel like leaving us alone. I did get a free embroidered shrimp for my birthday present from Boos, a teenage boy who sold bracelets on the beach, he did however wolf down most of our digestive cookies. Margaux got a massage on the beach and I convinced her that she should try getting her legs "threaded". This is the technique used on the beach to remove hair, they wrap a thread around your hair and twist it so that it rips the hair out. I would say Margaux lasted about 10 minutes and then quit when the pain was too unbearable. The girls who were threading her legs proceeded to call her "no ooey" for the next two days (ooey is their word for ouch). Extremely hilarious.

Two days of beach time passes by extremely fast and as we waited for the bus back to Phnom Penh, Boos the teenage boy from the beach showed up on his bicycle to say goodbye (although he was annoying, I thought this was extremely sweet, and we sat down and had breakfast with him before leaving). We had only one night left with Margaux and we hadn't hit the main tourist market yet, we knew the minute we got to Phnom Penh there would be no more relaxing.


Anonymous said...

coucou les amoureux

Encore encore et encore moi.

tres belles photos D'Emilie, Yann vraiement tu a un corps de......
Je crois que cela fait du bien de se reposer, vous n'avez pas arrete beaucoup depuis le debut de votre aventure.

Je vous embrasse et on vous aime beaucoup beaucoup

P.s.: ici il pleut a torrent, le deluge

La plus belle des matantes et des moncles

Raymond & Denise

Anonymous said...

The threading was really painful! I had heard of it but never tried. Way worse than waxing and I just could not stand it. I figured I was on the beach to relax...
I paid the girls half the price and said I couldn't continue(they had only done a small fraction of the job)...and yes, they did laugh at me the rest of the time I was there. Even a demonstration of my toughness by holding my own arm-wrestling that (surprisingly strong) little boy did not offer relief!!! ; )

The beach was really gorgeous, as can be seen in Y&E's photos, and the water was as warm as a bath...

I think we all could have spent much longer at this location...

Anonymous said...

Oh, something else you didn't mention is that everyone else there except us (and the few other tourists) swam in the ocean fully clothed. As you can see in the photos, Em and I had bikinis. Definitely felt a little indecent... although I didn't see anyone give us any bad looks and we did try to cover up when we weren't in the water (OK, I admit, Em more than me... I got lazy). We did see some scantily clad female tourists getting VERY cold looks from local women in Phnom Penh.