I did mention in one of my earlier post that how elated I was for my visit to Otres village. But once I landed in Cambodia, tourists were so crestfallen about Sihanoukville being the entire place completely under some ‘crazy’ construction. Whoever was travelling from south to north of Cambodia would recommend, the tourists moving the opposite direction, to avert Sihanoukville. The absurdity here was, sir Google didn’t have any such update fed to him on this, hence his followers worldwide didn’t have any idea about all these heavy work going on in a city before arriving in Cambodia. Above all these, it was beyond conceiving the idea of what a ‘crazy’ construction could be until one would be a real time bystander to it!
So naturally, people were still taking their chances and were continuing with their plan. And likely I was also part of the same taking-a-chance community and continued with my plan unchanged. Trust me; it was no where possible to imagine how awful the situation could be until I reached the behemoth of an excavated crater. It was only innumerable high tower cranes, mountainous bricks and blocks, invaded the city and people still continuing their regular lives there among all that break-and-build chaos was the abnormal surprise.
My stay was booked at an Italian colony in Otres and for a little comfort this particular colony still had less hammer drill going on so far. The beach was about 10 minutes walking distance away, which otherwise would have been a fantastic distance to walk to but walking on broken road and just labours here-there-everywhere wearing rubber boots, brick hammers in hand, rolling concrete mixers dripping cements around, boulders engulfing the roads were my only scenic view, which was making my heart cold and rock solid. With some kick-your-butt-hard effort, I somehow tricked myself to walk to the beach.
The hotel did give me the direction to the beach but at the main road I got a bit confused. I asked few locals they looked at me with deadpan expression and went back to their work. I asked another person, who nodding his head pointed me to a shop and looking further he actually pointed me to the man sitting inside the shop with a laptop covering half of his face behind it and rest of him was covered by a tall bald man who was speaking to him.
‘Excuse me, can you please help me with the way to the beach.’
‘You have to walk to your left, then you see the beach.’ The man wrapped the conversation and went back hiding behind his laptop.
‘You want to go to the beach?’ That tall bald guy asked me with a small backpack at one shoulder.
‘I guess I do!’
‘It’s about a 10 minutes walk from here and you need to be careful.’
‘What does that mean?’
‘You see a lot of construction work is going on and lot of labours are working. Just be careful and take care of that phone.’
‘Ok, I will. Thank you.’ I was creasing my brows a bit thinking why he would say that!
‘By the way I am also going to the beach, you mind if I come with you?
!!! ‘I don’t think that should be a problem.’
‘Ok, two minutes, I will just pay him for the tickets and we go together then.’
With such sullied, neither natural nor concrete beauty; a stranger’s company couldn’t be worse after all.
‘So what brought you here?’ we started towards to the beach, while the tall bald man started the talk.
‘The same which may have brought you here.’
‘Yaa, you know there was no update on the internet about these work going on here. it’s crazy!’
‘Yes, even I heard about this construction work once I reached Cambodia. And I already had my stay booked.’
‘But anyway it’s difficult to understand and believe until you see how majorly they are working.’
‘True. But now it’s difficult to like this place.’
‘Yes, where all in Cambodia you have been so far?’
‘I started with Siem Reap, then I am moving to south and..’
‘Oh, Siem Reap is my last stop. I love that place, I have been to Siem Reap before.’
‘Yes, it’s really nice there.’
‘I am thinking to move to Kep tomorrow. This place isn’t doing any good to me.’
Thankfully this tall bald man came to the beach with me, otherwise I once again could have got confused with my route. The entrance of the beach had a long horizontal brick wall barricade which made it difficult to make out the way to the beach for the first timers. The entrance part of the beach was crowded with locals, we thus had option to move right or left to see more of the beach.
‘I have been here yesterday. If you take my words, if we move to our right, you see more of the construction work going on, at left it’s little lesser and better.’
‘May be we start with the left and then if there’s time we will think of the right side?’
‘Good idea. You want to swim in the water?’
‘Not really, I just came for a walk. You want to swim?’ I bet he did.
‘I do actually. The sunset is a good time to bathe in the water. I didn’t ask, where are you from?’
‘I am for India. And you?’
‘I am from Russia. Do you work?’
‘Me too. But my job is boring.’
‘Really? What do you do?’
‘I am an accountant. So morning I work and evening is my free time.’
‘That’s nice. Work, earn and travel!’
‘Umm!! If you want we can walk where the beach ends, there is a fishermen’s village at the end. It’s nice.’
‘We can. Aren’t you swimming?’
‘I will. I know the place.’
The hotels and restaurants by the beach were the only solace in comparison to the mud and clay spoliation for tourists who were staying in this village provided one was to be staying by the beach. Otherwise people who were bit far-away from the beach they would have to make their way back to the hotel before it would be late in the evening.
We continued our walk where the beach took another turn and vanished within the mangrove and there was a small fishermen’s village. We saw people enjoying the beach, water and smoky sizzlers. The sunset was soft and lazy and the horizon was dozing to flare anything more than purple and orange that evening.
‘This is my favourite place to swim. Will you continue your walk or would you like to stay here?’ we were walking back towards the entrance when the tall bald man stopped by a tree.
‘I can wait here.’ At least this much civility should be shown in return.
‘Then can I ask you to look after my bag, I will take just 5 minutes.’ Hey you could have asked anyway!
‘You can take more than 5.’
It got dark before we could venture the right side of the beach. And not that I was very interested, we moved back to our hotels. While his stay was at the opposite direction of mine, he insisted to accompany me to the resort for my safety and while we were close to the gate of the resort with a gracious smile on his face, he bade ‘Proshchay’..