Everyone, since I got to Cambodia, has been telling me to go to the islands on the coast of Sihanoukville. I researched and the islands looked beautiful! There is snorkeling to do and beautiful beaches. And you know what? I had zero interest in going. I almost made myself go because “everyone” was telling me to go. I’ve realized, in my week of being on my own while traveling, that this time is not about doing what everyone tells me to do. It’s a time to strip away hose uneccessary pleasing behaviors and focus on what I really want to do. What I really wanted to do was go to Ream National Park.
Ream National Park is about 30 miutes above Otres beach. I stayed at the Monkey Maya, nestled right on the outskirts of the jungle. Monkey Maya doesn’t use power before 5:30pm and turns it off again at midnight. They also don’t have WiFi. It’s a moment to hike, read, swim on their private beach and seriously chill. It was exactly what I was looking for. The friends I met on the bus to Sihanoukville and their friends joined me and we trekked via tuk tuk Sunday morning. I had started to feel off that morning and questioned my decision to travel to a remote location but, it was the best thing for me. Once we arrived, I dropped my bags and we went through a hike through the jungle. One of the coolest things about the Monkey Maya is they give you an empty rice sack to pick up trash when you go out to hike. If you fill up the bag, you get a free beer or coconut if you’re like me and don’t drink. Rice sack in hand, we set out!
The jungle is lush and full of cute frogs, big butterflies and monkeys (apparently). We didn’t see any. We sadly filled up our rice sack pretty fast but, I was happy to be helping clean up a gorgeous patch of Mother Nature. Our hike led us to a private beach and we hoped right in to cool off from the heat of the day. Swimming around looking at the jungle with no one else around is pretty spectacular and I highly recommend trying it multiple times in this life. We swam and splashed around for awhile before, heading back to the hostel. The hostel is essentially a large tree house that has a huge lounge/reception area where everyone sits in big papasan chairs and enjoys the view of the ocean on one side and the view of the jungle of the other.
Once at the hostel and laying down, a fever hit me. I drank plenty of coconut water and remained laying down for the rest of the night. It was actually a blessing in disguise because it turns it exactly what I needed was no distractions and time to journal and read. Oh, and to watch majestic sunsets and lightening storms lighting up the sky. Luckily, I could tell what was going on wasn’t serious and I was okay with my herbal remedies I brought in my DIY first aid kit. My friends left back to Otres that night and I stayed on, excited to truly unwind.
The next day, I did exactly that. I let myself sleep in until 7am for extra healing and was rewarded by feeling 99% back to normal. I decided it would be grand to continue the take it easy approach and read in a hammock for the remainder of the morning. I might have even snuck in a nap. Around noon, when my stomach rumbled signaling me to finally get out of the hammock (why are they are so comfortable?), I ate a quick lunch and took another tour of the jungle. I am so glad I got to witness Ream National Park the way it is now, preserved, because I heard that the land has been sold to Chinese developers who are already intending to cut down all the trees and build something unimportant. When will we learn??
I took another rice sack out with me again and filled it up to the brim. Truly, the trash problem here is truly out of control. Walking back to the hostel, I thought it would be romantic to do yoga on the beach before taking a sunset dip. I got 25 minutes into my practice but, you know what? Yoga on the beach is not great. Sand gets everywhere and is too annoying. I scrapped the yoga and jumped into the ocean instead, floating around as it started to rain around me. Watching the rain drops hit the surface of the water and dance before me is one of the most majestic things I’ve witnessed thus far in this life. New favorite activity is swimming in the rain. The rest of my night was more reading and an early bed time. I’m happy to report that I read two books in two days while I was there. Being distraction-less and just surronded by peace, quiet and papasan chairs did a lot for my reading attention span.
I finished my time at Monkey Maya with a run on the beach—suprinsgly harder to run in the sand than I thought— and decided to head back to Otres Beach to hang out for another day or two before making my way to Siem Reap. Accommodation and food are pretty cheap in Cambodia but, the thing that is getting me is transportation. I’m mostly having to do it alone and it’s adding up! I took a tuk tuk back to Otres for a pretty penny and landed at Wish You Were Here hostel.
Guys, promise me you will come to Cambodia, make it Otres and stay at Wish You Were Here okay? It’s been my best hostel experience thus far due to amazing people (staff and fellow back packers) and atmosphere. The hostel is set back from the beach so, it’s not right on the sand but a foot back. Walking in, you pass through hanging vines, giving it a tree house/peter pan vibe. And again it’s a big open lounge space with papasan chairs. Cambodia loves a papasan. Most of the chairs are hung from the ceiling so, they are also swings and it adds to the playful, hippie vibe. I immediately met a group of really wonderful souls who I connected with over conversation and later a trivia night down the road. My new friends and I won trivia night too! I lost miserably the last time I played trivia in London so, I was happy to redeem myself.
The days in Otres pass by like the breeze. The beach weather is the perfect tempature to run in the morning, swim in the afternoon and pass the time with new friends all evening. Tonight (Wednesday), I went for a dip in the warm waters one last time before watching the sunset. It was moment I will never forget and reminded me of why I’m out here, traveling around. I’m seeking meaningful experiences big and small. Even spending two days here, its really easy to see how people get sucked in and don’t leave. I almost decided to stay for a week and see how I felt. But, I decided to keep on moving to Siem Reap. Until next time Otres!