Cambodia is steadily becoming the next South East Asian go-to travel destination so I wanted to check it out before it lost too much of its authentic charm.
We flew into the bustling city Phnom Penh with its street lined market vendors, scooters and an assortment of fried creepy crawlies where you are instantly thrown into a new world.
We treated ourselves to a nice hotel to start with with a much-needed pool to escape the instant humidity.
Yes we ate spiders….
After a very bumpy and death-defying minivan ride, we made it to the beachside town of Sihanoukville. Here we stayed in mushroom huts buy the beach that at first looked like something out of Dr Suess, with quirky winding pathways and round beds….but on closer inspection were less than practical with no walls or lights, holes in the mosquito nets and a less than private loo!
This night happened to be New Years eve so what better way to start the evening off than a pizza and a cocktail! Afterwards, we took a stroll down the soft white beach and discovered this was the more ‘chill zone’ of Sihanoukville with people just chilling with a few beers, rather than the nearby forest rave party we learned about the next day from some very wide-eyed neighbours.
New years day we spent swimming and drinking cocktails into the sunset!
Our next stop was Coconut beach on the idyllic island of Koh Rong which was only a short yet shaky vigorous speedboat trip off the coast.
The forecast for Coconut beach was less than ideal with rain and clouds pretty much the entire time. What I didn’t expect was also a side of giant barking lizards in every corner including sleeping next to my head!
Luckily we had a couple of sunny days where we decided to find some of these secret beaches that were scattered across the island. The only problem was after hours of walking (on a broken foot I might point out) we failed to find these secret beaches and instead got a little sunburnt and ended up getting lift back on a local tractor/trailer from a friendly local, (who was very confused as to why we were in the middle of the island).
The second attempt was somewhat more successful, although because of the storm the previous night the beach was littered with debris so we just opted for a short stroll and coconut drink before we headed back.
Safely back on Coconut beach!
View from our accommodation (minus any lizards)
It was easy to think that this beach was naturally idyllic and had escaped the plastic pollution problem much of this region suffered from. In fact, these ladies got up early morning and clean up the beach for everyone to enjoy. – Refuse- Reuse and recycle people.
After a few days of island living and sand getting everywhere, we were ready to head up to Kratie with a quick pitstop back in Phnom Penh…
Back in another mini van go up to Kratie…
After a long drive where we were stuffed between local produce, luggage and villagers we made it to the sleepy dusty town of Kratie which is famous for sitting alongside the Mekong River and kayaking with the freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins and flooded forests.
This was us, smiling, positive… at the beginning, before we realised that 4 hours of kayaking against the current is not a fun time.
Quick pitstop and local sweet snack.
Back on dry land, we went for a wander to explore what living in this little town was like…
Last stop Siem Reap and a lifetime’s worth of temples! We bought a three-day temple pass which for us was perfect as it’s very easy to get temple fatigue because there are just so many beautiful ones! I’ve tried to edit down the photos as much as possible but there was so much detail and beauty its almost impossible, but here goes…
Inbetween temple exploring we also got to know Siem Rep the city too. Compared to all the other places we visited was quite different, it was a lot cleaner, more modern and much more of a slick tourist machine. But still had its hidden gems like the training camp for rats who help find unexploded mines (read more about them here: https://www.apopo.org/en).
Our last day we booked into a nice hotel before a long flight home. Poolside in the sun was the perfect way to end an amazing adventure-filled holiday.