Stevo and I had been enjoying our little slice of heaven, the laid back, beautiful beach at Otres 1 in Sihanoukville, Cambodia for about two weeks. We spent most of our days swimming, snorkeling, stand up paddle boarding, going on boat trips, doing yoga, eating great Khmer and western dishes, meeting locals and fellow travelers, reading, writing and enjoying our new found freedom on the road. There was plenty to do to fill our days just in the mile or so stretch of beach in front of our guesthouse.
Restaurants and bungalows sit just a few meters from the water along Otres Beach.
One afternoon we decided to rent a motorbike and explore the area a bit further. Stevo handed over his passport and $3 to the nice man in the shop, and the motorbike was ours for the afternoon.
It’s so easy to rent a motorbike!
The one helmet the rental place had was too small for Stevo and a bit too big for me. Our heads are comically different sizes. It’s illegal not to wear a helmet in Cambodia, but in the countryside it’s usually okay, and if you get stopped by a police officer the fine is only 5000 riel ($1.25), so we figured we’d just go for it.
Yeah, our heads are different sizes. Love conquers all!
We rode through Otres 1 past the Long Beach, an aptly named expansive bare stretch of beach mainly used by locals on the weekends and during holidays.
Pretty nice public beach, eh? (We’ve been hanging out with Canadians ;)
We continued on to Otres 2, less crowded than Otres 1 with nicer, slightly pricier guest houses and bungalows. There wasn’t a lot of action going on there, except for two construction sites where it looked like three story tall hotels were being built.
Nobody around but this noisy goose at Otres 2.
The amazing thing about the Otres area was all of the vacant lots. There were dozens of plots of land for sale right across the street from the beach. Many had been sold since we were there for our first time in June 2013. We’re sure that this place won’t stay the same for long with it’s quiet atmosphere and simple, inexpensive beach bungalows. The room we stayed in on the water was just $8/night!
Dozens of empty lots for sale right across from the Long Beach.
We rode back along the Long Beach until we came to a red dirt road where we turned right, away from the water. We rode past homes on stilts, rice paddies, cows, water buffalo, geese, chickens, dogs, pigs, and then suddenly, horses!
Water buffalo swimming just off the road.
We stopped off to check it out. It turned out to be Liberty Ranch, opened by a French woman in 2012. Her company offers one, two or three hour horse riding tours along the beach, through the countryside and across a river. It looked like a fun thing to do for an afternoon!
They also have ponies for riders 3 and up. Must be 85kg or less to ride the horses.
We continued on to the end of the road and made a right toward Wat Otres. Young monks gathered out front smiled and waved us in toward the temple.
We love the colors of Cambodia!
We parked the moto and walked around. I always love the strong smell of incense and bright colors of Cambodian temples.
Stevo: “Guess what they’re building?” Jen: “What?” Stevo: “Exactly.” We love Wat puns :p
As we were leaving we saw an older monk blessing a group of people in front of a building, chanting and dumping water over their heads from a plastic pail. They were all soaked and smiling.
Maybe someday we’ll act like mature adults…this was not that day.
We followed a road that was under construction that led pretty steeply up a hill. At a flat area Stevo stopped and I hopped on to try riding the moto. We’ve talked about taking a long motorbike trip, and one of my goals during this trip is to become confident riding on my own. I did pretty well!
The back of Jen’s shirt says: “If you can read this, the b*tch fell off.”
We rode around some bridge construction half way up the hill and stopped. We climbed up some boulders to get a better view. There was countryside below us, and the Gulf of Thailand and islands in the distance. So beautiful.
I can see my house from here.
As we rode further up the hill, the views just kept getting better. At the top there was more construction of what looked like a future hotel, shaped like a ship.
You can see the ship’s prow on the left.
There was a friendly Cambodian family and some workers tending to the landscaping, and a baby sitting on a pile of rocks.
“Wat are you doing, baby?” PUN
From that vantage point we could look out over the whole city, the countryside, villages and downtown Sihanoukville. The sun was dropping lower in the sky, casting a bright golden light over the entire scene. I stood in front of Stevo and he wrapped his arms around me as we looked out. Exploring and experiencing moments like that are what I treasure most about our travels together. I breathed in a big sigh of contentment and joy. At those times I know we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be.
We coasted back down the long hill, waving to people making their commute home going either up or down.
Realizing our moto was almost out of juice we stopped at the first “gas station” we saw with the tell tale signs of one liter liquor bottles full of yellow liquid. When we pulled up we saw a young woman there who works at our guesthouse. It turned out to be her home! 5000 riel got us a full liter and filled half the tank.
Let’s set this party on fire.
We rode back the way we came, then made a right past the Long Beach and through Otres 1. We passed some shacks and graffiti covered walls, then were out on the open road. Instead of turning towards town, we zigged down a road up another hill.
Swan Skeptic-By Anonymous
At the top and around a bend were huge homes and condos for sale. The prices were from $8,000-$30,000. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop and look as the sun was quickly going down. A few minutes later we turned back toward Otres 1. We wanted to avoid riding in the dark and watch the sunset from the beach.
We made it back just in time.
There’s lots to explore in the Otres area, and I’m sure we only scratched the surface. But getting out of the well trodden areas and seeing more of the countryside, meeting friendly Cambodians and seeing beautiful views made for a lovely afternoon.
Have you ever rented a motorbike? What was your experience like?