Sihanoukville – Otres Beach

From Siem Reap I took the most comfortable night bus I have ever taken. With reclining seats and properly paved roads it made for a good nights sleep! I arrived in Sihanoukville in the early hours the following morning. Replicating Laos they had decided recently to move the bus station into the middle of nowhere, which is always difficult to comprehend at four in the morning. From there I took a moto to Otres beach, or so I thought as the driver became quite confused and I eventually had to direct him. Around eight kilometers from the town, Otres beach is a little hide away with kilometers of white sand and minimal development.

Its isolation is what makes Otres beach special. It is incredibly quiet making for a nice close knit feel to the place. The beach is lovely and the water clear and warm. The food whilst more expensive was delicious. Having not been on a beach since Sri Lanka, it was a very welcome return and made for a relaxing few days. The only downside to the place was that there was definitely something in the water! On my first swim I felt a bite on my back but thought nothing of it. The following day a Belgium guy staying next to me complained of being bitten. Chancing it I went in and came out with a sharp pain, a small amount of blood and two needles sticking out of my foot. Another time I went in and swam straight past two jellyfish. What was most striking was that they were not very see through, just large clumps of mostly black. I swam back to the safety of the shore.

Otres Beaches reputation as a relaxed and beautiful beackpackers retreat harbors a rather nasty secret however that symbolises the governments short sightedness. Only a few years ago, the local population were removed from their village by force and all the bars and restaurants along the beach were knocked down without warning. With total disregard for the inhabitants future, most were left homeless, many of which who thought that they had a lease on the land. The reason, because the government agreed to the building of a new resort from foreign owners. This is all to common across Cambodia, where quick money from abroad is being prioritised ahead of a Cambodian led future. Many of the islands carry two hundred year leases. As mentioned before in the previous post, the Angkor temples are the property of a Chinese oil firm. Currently some of the places have returned, although in smaller numbers. The local village has moved into small shacks up on the hill. With ground being marked out and prepared for the development the accepted thinking is that it is only a matter of time until Otres becomes an exclusive beach for the rich only with no concern as to the current inhabitants.

After a number of uneventful but thoroughly enjoyable days on the beach I left for the so called up and coming place in Cambodia, Kampot.


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