Otres Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Our first stop in Cambodia and possibly the favourite. Otres Beach, was a young traveller’s dream; offering the chaos of a wild nightlife scene, the serenity of faultless clear water, beaches and prices that make it hard to leave. We truly fell in love with this place, specifically our home at Otres Beach 1 where everything we needed to fulfil our simplified lives was a stone's throw away. We lived on the beach, drinking $1US beers, swimming out to the floating water park and eating ourselves sick with cheap Western food- a little ignorant, I know, but with a belly full of beer in the afternoon all we felt like was a burger!
Though Otres is a balmy 30-degree haven during the day, it’s the evenings and nights where it gets to truly flex its muscles. To begin, some of the best sunsets I saw across four countries took place in the first 4 days thanks to the scintillating beauty that is Otres Beach. The Saturday ‘Night Market’ brings everyone from the surrounding areas together- namely young travellers and old presumably retired hippies- for a symphony of food stands, stalls selling stone necklaces, locally made clothing and live music performed by enthusiastic acoustic bands. They invite strangers to sing on stage and when their voices crack and screech, not a single face winces, the crowd all continue to smile and clap and cheer and everyone is happy. It could only be likened to bringing the age of free love, peace signs and long hair forward in time to the Cambodian jungle. The only way to understand it, was to indulge in it.
Finally, Otres holds one last trick up her sleeve - bioluminescent plankton. A rare sight and truly like something out of Harry Potter. Your arms shimmer in a strikingly blue glow as they move through the water and the brightness moves effortlessly with the motion of the waves. I left small pieces of myself in Otres beach: a commitment to carelessness, the easy embrace of wonder and an openness to a pared back, beatnik lifestyle. I can’t wait to go pick them up again.
COVER PHOTO: CLAIRE FELIX-FAURE