Fringed with tropical beaches, pristine mangrove forests, secluded unspoilt Islands and night life to fulfill the apatite of even the hardest of hardcore party goers makes the south a little bit special but be warned its going to make a few people a little bit jealous.
On the 29th October we left the capital city of Phnom Penh for the Sunkist beaches of the south coast, still unsure of what we would find. I never knew anything about this region until I began reading up on it in the Capital and words such as; beauty, tranquility, palm trees, sunsets, tropical Islands and pinacolada's, sprang from the pages like long lost friends and done more than wet the whistle, I was more than in. We promptly booked our tickets and off we went in search of paradise, and believe me we wasn't to be disappointed.
We arrived at a little seaside resort called Kep, famed for spectacular sunsets, fresh crab and old French colonial villas that speak of happier times, line the beach and stand like ghosts from another age. The villas were destroyed by the Khemer Rouge and are now just abandoned blackened shells said to be haunted. They are very strange indeed and would make a great set for a horror film. We stayed in a slightly better French guesthouse on the beach, the perfect location to explore the area. Kep is a place were the locals enjoy their holidays and we arrived during the weekend so it was alive with locals relaxing and eating the local delicacy, fresh crab. This is what Kep is most famous for and it certainly lives up to expectations, its beautiful. We went for a walk to the local crab market to try it out, on the way encountering a local troop of monkeys, meandering about as the sun was going down. I tried the crap with Kampot pepper (famous in any French restaurant worth their salt). It must rank as some of the best sea food that I have had, its so fresh, aromatic and tasty. Fantastico!!!
|Outside one of the old French Villas|
The closest palce I have ever been to paradise is, Koh Tonsay, better known as Rabbit Island. It lies about 45 minutes from Kep and has the feel of an Island you would read about in a Treasure Island or Robinson Crusoe book. There are virtually no foreigners to be found on this tropical hidden secret. Coconut tress fringe the beach, crystal blue waters lap up against a lone fisherman's boat, the sun glares down from the west, and all there is to do is laze on on the hammock on your raised bamboo shack and sip an ice cold beer. Perfect!!!
Its a very peaceful and tranquil place and the perfect place for relaxing and just forgetting about the world around you. As night approaches, we would sit and watch sunset glow over the mountains or a storm raging in the distant ocean mesmerised by the lightening strikes that flicker and light up the sky for a split second like an ancient foreboding. At 9pm, what little light there is on the island goes off as the generators stop, the insects come alive and then like clock work the dogs on the island howl in competition with each other as the shadows created by the bright moon move and take on strange ghostly shapes creating this very mystical atmosphere. I remember during the first night looking up and just being amazed by the all the stars shinning so brightly in the sky; I have never seen so many stars and it feel so timeless.
|Exploring the island|
|The beauty of Koh Tonsay|
|Paradise-Chilling in my hammock|
|Its hammock time again outside our bamboo shack|
|Sun Set over the mountains|
|Sun Set Glow|
|On our way to the fishing village|
|Our guide leading the way to our snorkeling location straight ahead|
|The children of the island|
|The boats used for fishing|
|Talking with the children|
|On our way back to Koh Tonsay|
From Kep we traveled by a pink tuck tuck to Kampot, a charming riverside town, that has a sleepy relaxing atmosphere. Just like Kep it has a french colonial feel (and some great french cafes) and is a destination worth going just to lay back and get fat. From here we traveled further up the coast to Sihanoukville to party for a week. This is Cambodia's most happening beach destination and is a great place to party all day and night. We only planned to spend a day or two here but ended up spending a week; its infectious, vibrant, addictive, crazy, its gonna suck you and spit you out, right up my street kind of place and in the words of my American friend; 'its bloody god dam good fun man, awesome!!!'
|Inside the famous tuck tuck on our way to Kampot|
|'This is the life'- on the beach of Sihanoukville|