Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Shanti Shanti bungalow, Otres Beach

I spent the week of (about- I am never sure of the day or date here) 10 -17 Feb in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. It was really a nice time and I was able to paint quite a bit. The first few days I was mostly near Serendipity beach,  which is a busy tourist center, but after a few days I found myself  at Otres beach, where I discovered this French run kind of south sea mini- resort (“Shanti-Shanti” with three huts) run by a very nice couple, Matt and Sophie. They made me feel at home and suggested some nice places to paint. Matt and Sophie have a simple restaurant  where the  main dish was a daily  Quiche. I think I better go back to the rice diet after this.

Well, every morning I was waking up  before sunrise, in my little grass and wood bungalow, crawl out from under the mosquito netting and walk the 20 ft. to the ocean and wade out in the loveliest blue water, at just the right temperature. After my swim, I wandered up to the small restaurant where I enjoyed a big cup of espresso and a brioche and jam.

I felt like I was in some exclusive Caribbean resort. Of course the shower was a barrel and a pot, and sand got in everything, but it didn’t bother me a bit. After my morning routine, I went out and painted most days. Once me and another guest took a short canoe ride, but otherwise the only thing I did was sometimes go out to another bar down the beach that had more english speakers.

Cambodia surprised me.  I spend a lot of time in Cambodia nervous because of all the bad reports you get, but the truth is it has been absolutely wonderful, and my interactions with Khmers have always been pleasant, or even enthusiastic. A big plus here, in a twisted sort of way, is the poverty, because there is a lot less traffic here than in Thailand. One day while I was out painting on a dusty red road, near a town, someone came by to give me a  can of soda, ” in thanks for painting our village”! It made my day.

Published by Stephan Giannini

An oil painter from Maine, USA.

4 thoughts on “Sihanoukville, Cambodia

  1. Otres Beach is a very nice place here in Sihanoukville but it looks like that in the future all the huts and bungalows have to move because of they are all illegal on this land.

    1. It is my understanding that the Otres beach is slated for development. When this happens (supposedly soon ) the guesthouses will have to move. It is possible that the huts are illegal but the proprietors that I spoke with pay rent and taxes to local officials. Whether this is a corrupt system, I don’t know.

  2. It’s all legal, it’s just that the governor of Sihanoukville loves his kick-backs, and he’s getting a massive one from Sokha-Beach resort and hotel, a company which wants to be the only accommodation provider near the beach in Kompong Som. As a result, they are planning to turn Otres into a park where no one will ever go. Luckily, it looks like only the first half of Otres beach will be requisitioned by the government, and Shanti Shanti and friends will be left alone (but for how long?)

  3. Well the latest news is that we have got at least two more years and maybe even longer if the present governor is voted out at the next elections !!! we live in hope

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