Friday, 3 February 2012

Otres Beach, Sihanoukville

There are no shops here and the water will cost you $1 for a large compared to 45cent in the town. Make sure you stock up on supplies before your stay here.

Tuk Tuks will try charging you up to $8 from Serendipity to Otres, which is extortionate! If there were six of us travelling we would always pay $6 between us but no more. The most Ian and I paid for the two of us was $5 and the cheapest we paid was $3.50. Make sure you haggle hard and walk away if you do not get the right price. You can also get a lift on the back of a motorbike for roughly $1-$2 each.

Most of the accommodation here was fully booked and more expensive than what we had expected. We asked at every bar/restaurant on the beach and checked out some of the limited rooms that were available.
We saw a room at a place called 'Done Right' for $20 a night for a double. After seeing the room, i didn't feel that it was worth that kind of money, as it was just a basic concrete hut and didn't even have a beach side view. At the same place we then saw a cheaper room with a shared bathroom for $12 a night for a twin. It was a small wooden shack built on top of the restaurant/bar area with very thin wooden walls and gaps large enough at the top so that someone could easily climb over and gain entry to your room, needless to say we decided against booking there.

One of the other rooms we viewed was just next door to Done Right and called Mushroom Point. This room was a coco hut, again without a beach side view but it had a private bathroom located a couple of steps outside of the room. A double room here cost $30 a night and it was definitely not worth this kind of money, maybe $10 - $15 at the most but asking $30 for a coco hut is beyond a joke!

If you want to to spend $18 - $25 then there is a place opposite Mushroom Point that has just been built called 'Papa Pippo'. It has excellent beach views from most of the huts and it has been built to a good standard with glass fronted doors, making it look quite posh from the outside. Although i cant vouch for what the rooms look like inside.

We eventually found a twin room with wifi (it stopped working most of the time) and a fan for $15 per night at 'Mien Mien, Otres Beach Bungalows'. The room was clean and large with a private bathroom and twin beds, no doubles were available and we couldn't negotiate on the price.

During our stay here we found the young lady running the bungalows to be quite miserable and not very friendly or helpful, so i would not recommend staying here unless you're desperate!

Our room

Jason, Josh, Luke and Aaron found a room next door to Mushroom Point called 'Lim Hour Bungalows' for $12 between the four of them. Their room was quite small and two of them had to sleep on the floor but the owner provided extra bedding and blankets and the room had its own private bathroom. We couldn't stay here as their room was the last one available.

I did go in search once more of accommodation but many rooms for $12 had shared bathrooms and Ian felt it wasn't worth saving $3 without having the use of a private bathroom, so we ended up staying put.

The next few days we spent lazing on Otres Beach. With it's soft white sand and clear blue sea this was easily one of the best beaches we had found since our trip away, and if you walk further along the beach you will find areas that are free of other tourists and bars/restaurants.

When you're on the beach you do get hassled from time to time to buy sunglasses/fruit or have beauty treatments, but to be honest this really didn't bother me and usually after you say no the first time you won't get hassled again. Most of the girls are really friendly and will often come and talk to you even if you do not buy anything from them.

Me pictured with one of the local hawkers who was trying to convince me to get 'threaded'

 Ian pictured at the other end of Otres Beach, which is roughly a 2 mile walk

Both of these photos were taken in the early morning, when the sea was at it's most calm

There are also young boys who must be aged 7 - 10yrs old that collect plastic water bottles from you once you have finished using them. I'm presuming they get money for every bottle they collect and then it's recycled.
Some will also approach you and say, in a really sad, high pitched voice, 'Money for Yum Yums' and put their hand to their mouth. It is sad to see, especially as the boys would usually be wearing filthy clothes and many live in the poor shanty town just around the corner from the beach.

Another sad side to Otres Beach is the rubbish.....It is dumped by the bars/restaurants/locals in plots of land that isn't used and left there to rot. I also noticed that when some tourist buy food from the beach sellers they would leave their polystyrene container on the beach! If you do ever come here please pick up your rubbish!

We ventured over to another beach for the day that was located just before Otres and within walking distance. I have no idea what it was called but it was to the same standard as Otres but without any accommodation and had just one restaurant, I'm sure this won't last long though. Because it's a lot quieter here you won't get any hassled to buy things. As it was during Tet when we visited it was very busy with the locals but we were able to find a quiet spot away from the crowds.

Jason eating a foetus egg on the beach, which is considered a local delicacy
Just one of the beautiful sunsets we were treated to every evening

During our last few days we booked to go on a day boat trip around 3 of the islands nearby. I really wanted to go to Koh Rong (Monkey Island) and stay there for a couple of nights but there wasn't any accommodation available until the 27th January which was the day we were due to leave.

Anyway if you did fancy staying here it costs $15 per person for a return trip on the boat and roughly $15 - $20 for a basic coco hut with a private bathroom. If there is a group of you i would recommend booking a family room that can sleep up to 7 people for between $40 and $50, depending on which resort you stay at.
We ended up booking our Island day trip with 'Sunshine Cafe' (who serve the best food on the beach and give you huge portions!) for $12 each, this included snorkeling equipment. We were told to arrive at the cafe at 08:30am and we would return home between 5pm and 6pm.
The day before we were due to leave i came down a high fever and couldn't get out of bed. We asked to postpone the trip and were told to let them know by 5pm the next day so that we could book the trip for the following day.
After an early night, i spent the next day in bed, scorching hot, with a headache and backache. I had been feeling unwell for a few days but put it down to being tired. By the evening i decided to go and see a doctor as we were due to leave on an overnight bus to Siem Reap in the next day or so and i could barely leave the bed.

We paid $5 for a tuk tuk (i was too ill to haggle haha) to take us to a clinic with a doctor. It was located next to a place called Orange Supermarket which is a couple of minutes away from the golden lions/town area of Serendipity.

I had my temperature and BP taken by a nurse and was then examined by a Western doctor who asked me about my symptoms. The next thing i knew i had a nurse wanting to hook me up to an IV! I wasn't expecting that as no one had offered me any sort of explanation as to what my possible diagnosis was, and i had presumed that i would be sent home with either medication or be reasurred that it was just a virus. Ian asked the nurse what the IV was for and if it was really necessary and the nurse told us that it was antibiotics and that it was essential that i had it. I still wasn't reassured by this but i was feeling so ill that i reluctantly let the nurse proceed with treatment. The fluid was only a small packet and i was given three altogether over the next few hours.

I was then approached by another nurse who was carrying a larger bottle of medicine and was told that i would need to have this medicine overnight although it was more expensive and would cost $40. Ian and i again questioned the nurse about my diagnosis and were told by her and the doctor that i was 'intoxicated'. Neither could elaborate, although eventually the doctor told Ian that he thought i had inflammation of the kidneys. The doctor insisted that i should stay overnight, but without having any tests carried out i wasn't happy to spend money on treatment that may not have even been necessary.

I decided to leave that night but was told by the medical staff to return the following day so that i could be given some antibiotics to take home and to enable the doctor to test my blood and urine. During the 4hrs that i had been at the clinic i was charged $65, which i couldn't claim back on my travel insurance because our excess fee was £100.

The following day i woke up feeling so much better and was able to get up and go to the beach. The backache subsided after a couple of days and I didn't feel the need to return to the medical centre.

Unfortunetly we didn't have time to book an island tour but luckily the Sunshine Cafe refunded us our money.

Our final sunset. Sorry for the sunset overload photos, i became slightly obsessed!

During our time here Aaron and Josh also fell ill but with a bad stomach bug. They didn't have the same symptoms as what i had and it was probably down to the veg not being cooked properly and or being washed in contaminated water. There really is nothing you can do to avoid this unless you are extra cautious with what you eat, which for me would take the enjoyment out of eating the food. Chances are you will get sick when travelling, even if you're careful.

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