Siahnoukville is where we stopped to celebrate the New Year. Most of all, we wanted a quiet place, on the beach, somewhere warm, to step into 2018!
A good thing we thought about New Year already a few months ago! Seeing that most hotels were fully booked on the Cambodian coast already, we took the bet early November that we would be in Siahnoukville around the end of the year, and booked the last hotel that had a double room available at a (very) reasonable price..
[Travelling tip: If you are going to travel in South East Asia around New Year’s Eve and don’t want to end up with only 2 options: the last room in the super expensive 5 star crazy expensive hotel, or the budget room in the worst rated hotel of the beach (just because you wanted to be at the beach for NY), book a loooong time in advance!!]
Anyway, we didn’t actually stay in Sihanouk (also called Snooky apparently!), but in Otres Beach (about 10minutes by tuk tuk).
We were dropped off at Mom’s Kitchen in the village (name of our hotel) and welcomed by a British lady who was giving a lecture to who we assume was the cleaner, telling her that she could not go to “the party” because she had been lazy all afternoon and needed to do the laundry now… this argument went on for quite a while, setting the mood to the place.
The lady was not the owner but a friend of the owner, helping out with the management of the establishment.
Eventually she checked us in and led us to our room, which did not look at all like what we had seen online when we made our reservation 2 months ago. We knew it was a budget place, but were not expecting to be put into what looked more like a wooden storage room/oven with no toilet or shower (although sharing a bathroom didn’t bother us much). Being a little bit sceptical, we checked if we were at the right place (you never know!), and asked her if there might had been a mistake with the room… But she just told us that no, we booked the “budget building”…. And true enough, behind the chilling area the buildings and rooms looked a lot more like what we had seen online, unlike our storage!
So much for a romantic New Year’s! But trying to find something better on a 30th of December was mission impossible here, and we are backpackers after all, we can deal with (almost) anything now!
There are 3 small villages called Otres, it’s quite easy to remember they are called Otres 1, Otres 2 and Otres 3! We were in Otres 2, in the middle. Mom’s place was about 2 minutes away walking from the beach and that was good enough for us.
That same evening, we learned that Mom was the owner and had a another guest house/restaurant on the beach. Tonight she was celebrating her daughter’s birthday at the beach bar with a bbq and free beer for guests (we assumed that was “the party” the young girl earlier had been forbidden to go to…).
Free beer from 7pm was a convincing argument for us so that’s where we went for the evening….
We don’t have much to say about the following days as our only activity was to go to the beach and relax.
The beach in this area is nice, relatively clean and quiet, at least after New Years! On the 31st and the 1st, there were a lot of people on the beach, not so many tourists (most of them must have been on the islands around..), there were mostly Cambodians who were there to celebrate. It was interesting to see them all gather with family and friends, bring food and drinks (they literally ate all day long!). But most impressive was the sound system they had. Every group had their own massive speakers, and of course a Karaoke mic!
So there was a lot of music, especially 2 songs that followed us throughout our entire trip in Cambodia and which we heard without lying about 100 times in those 2 days! It was a little bit louder than what we expected but it was all in a very friendly and good vibe. We were taking pictures of them, they were taking pictures of us. They were singing, we were laughing, it was all good fun!
The following days were much more calm, everybody was back to work it seemed (except for us!), the beach was being cleaned up, and we got a better impression of what the beach was like on a regular basis and it was beautiful!
As for New Year’s eve, most of you know that we are not big party goers… after a day at the beach we went for a simple dinner next to our hotel which was very good, and then back to the beach for a cocktail while waiting for midnight… At midnight, we stood in the water, under a sky full of lanterns going up in the sky, a mojito in the hand, and wished each other and the rest of the world a happy new year 2018!
On the way back, we found a 20.000 rp note on the floor (5usd)… A sign that it would be a rich year! 🙂
Side note: It was definitely not the most romantic hotel to stay, but besides our expectations, we managed! In the end the worst thing was probably not the room, but the people who checked into this hotel… The drunk English guy that had an accident the day before and broke his arm in 3 places, had gone to the hospital but left because he could not pay and had his arm almost hanging with only a piece of cardboard to “hold” it still… That German guy who we have not seen sober or drug free during our entire stay, or the old pirate who was hanging out at the bar all the time talking about war…
The manager was a tough and sometimes loud women but she was very nice after all and meant well.
We also had some good company, not very talkative but very cute!