We had arranged for a car to bring them from Phnom Penh airport to Sihanoukville (4 hour journey) and had booked the Golden Sand hotel for them during their stay. On arrival day we tuk tuk’d to Golden Sand and waited in the coffee shop there for them to arrive, which they duly did.
We greeted them and presented out Travel Republic accommodation vouchers at reception. Keyboard tapping. Blank stares. More keyboard tapping. “Sorry, we don’t have that booking”. After about 45 minutes and 3 staff (manager’s conspicuously absent) we were informed that they didn’t deal with Travel Republic, the booking did not exist and the hotel was full.
A quick call to Sarun, our local driver, and we left the bags at the hotel to go and sit in Reef Resort to sort out the issue. Good Wifi and lunch helped clear the thought processes and whilst there Dad had a look around the resort, had a chat with reception and a short time later he and I were off to Golden Sand with Sarun again to collect the bags and check them into Reef for their stay.
12 nights of fun, relaxation and pure hedonism ensued, with us visiting Independence, Otres 1, Otres 2, Pagoda Rocks amongst other places. We ate a lot of good food, including the wonderful seafood platter at Secret Garden, tried a lot of good restaurants and spent a large portion of time chilling, swimming in the ultra-warm sea and enjoying life tremendously.
Favourite destinations soon became Secret Garden at Otres 2 and Friends Forever at Otres 1, where we came to know the staff pretty while during the occasional torrential downpour whilst we sheltered undercover. Good food combined with lovely staff really made each day a special occasion there.
Humour abounded throughout the visit with Sarun’s tuk tuk breaking down on the way back from Otres 2 one day. Solution? Pour some water over the engine and 2 minutes later we’re on our way again. His tuk tuk provided many a comedic jest as the 125cc bike that he uses to pull 4 people in a metal chariot was sufferingquite badly and its situation only became worse over the days.
At the suggestion of Torie, a lovely colleague of ours at LUCC, we headed up to Pagoda Rocks for the day. A small resort (about 14 bungalows) at the top of a hill near Wat Leu. Pagoda Rocks collected us in a minibus and we spent the day next to an infinity pool in an utterly peaceful location. We were alone for the most time as well, until a French couple came along, placed their seven year old issue in the water and proceeded to ignore her for hours whilst staring at their phones and tablets for the entire time. The child was one of the most annoying precocious creatures we had yet come across and was the only slight downside of this trip for me.
We ordered lunch, with Corinne and Dad asking for the Crab in Kampot Pepper Sauce only to be told that they didn’t keep crab in the kitchen as it goes off quickly. No issue, if we could wait 20 minutes then they’d send someone off to the market to get some. We waited happily and ordered some tapas whilst waiting, with an extra gambas pil pil as it was so good. The rest of the meal was also excellent and by the end of the day Dad was proclaiming that he wouldn’t eat again until at least the next evening (which turned out to be the same evening when he had a swordfish dinner).
The time finally came to take the wonderful people back up to Phnom Penh to catch their flight back to the UK. The minibus was pretty good but didn’t have the best driver, however he deposited us in the hotel a few hours later.
A late lunch nearby was very pleasant with some really good dishes and serious air conditioning, but as Dad and Corinne were feeling a bit dodgy we stayed local for dinner that night, a Japanese BBQ place called Kazu which actually turned out to be really good with a very interesting menu.
Up early the next day as the hotel manager had said it was over an hour to the airport, we waited until 7am for the taxi that the hotel had ordered the night before. 7:05. 7:10. 7:20 still no taxi. At 7:25 we put them in a tuk tuk as the driver had promised us that he could get them to the airport for 8:30. He actually got them there for 7:55 and gained our business for the rest of the day as we had planned to visit S21 (Genocide Museum) and Choeng Uk Killing Fields (Genocide Centre), but that requires a tale of its own.