The New York Times recently released their list of the 45 places to go in 2012. Some were obvious (8. Tokyo) some were controversial (3. Myanmar ) some were just strange (20. Space?).
In 2011 I visited two of the places on the list: 15. Halong Bay, Vietnam, which is already completely overrun by tourists (but that’s another story), and 23. the Cambodian coast and surrounding islands (specifically Koh Rong) near Sinoukville, which is not. This post is a focus in the latter and what to do there if you are somewhere in between a dirty backpacker and a New York Times traveler.
I wanted to give specific advice on sleeping/eating/drinking/doing as I think this is one the few times during my six week trip I got it all right.
Sleep: Mushroom Point. The guesthouse is most accurately described a campus of little mushroom like bungalows. Located a stone’s throw away from Otres Beach, the quietest of the Sinoukville beaches, this place has amenities all the right places: clean sheets, stylized décor, good music. The vibe is similar to that of a café in Portland in that many guests lye around the lobby all day, drink Black Panther (Chinese) beer and tap away on their laptops. Except between 4-6 pm when the yoga class is held.
Full disclosure: The couple that run the place are Slovenian and while they may have escaped the Balkan temperatures, their mannerisms are a bit… icy. Nonetheless, they are on the whole helpful. Don’t be intimidated, just prepared.
The mushrooms are $25 /Rooms $10/ Dorm rooms $7 a night.
Eat: Again Mushroom Point. The Slovenian ownership is also manifested on the menu, in a good way aka great schnitzel. All of the vegetables grown used in the kitchen are grown in the garden on site.
Drink: Sunshine Café is the barrier in between Mushroom Point and Otres Beach. The place is run by a Polish woman who makes some of the freshest and best tasting cocktails I have ever had and at $2.50 for a pint sized mojito with fresh mint and lime, probably some the cheapest.
Do: If you made it all the way to Sinoukville, you have to check out the islands off the coast. Any guesthouse can book it for you. The place we booked it through even gave us a bag of beer as they pushed us out to sea at 8 am.
And make sure you go to Koh Russei, specifically the beach on the Southwest side of the island. Please please please do not be deterred by the 20 minutes walk through the jungle among the millipedes or else you will be stuck on the garbage beach, miserable and angry that you took my advice. Once you make it to through millipede forest, you will find yourself on one of the most beautiful and untouched beaches I have ever seen. The beach is only inhabited by what I can only describe as the most “authentic” commune I have ever seen, and probably what most people are looking for when the go visit the island on which they filmed “The Beach” in Thailand. They were even playing Moby’s “Porcelain” when we arrived.