Cambodia Part 4

Otres, Sihanouville and the Ream National Park

There were 2 reasons for us to visit Sihanoukville: it’s the gateway to the island of Koh Rong Samloem and it’s close to the Ream National Park.

We didn’t find the informations we needed about the park online. Is there an entrance fee and if, how much? Can you enter the park without a guide? How do you get there? Can you drive through or is it all jungle, only accessible by foot?
Finally, the staff of an italian Restaurant in Otres helped us out: it would be best to rent a motorbike for 5$/day and get to Ream by ourselves. Despite some misleading comments on tripadvisor you don’t need a guide nor be part of a tour to enter and there’s a small entrance fee.

The road to the Ream National Park

The bike was given to us with no fuel and we were told there was a gas station at the end of the street. After riding said street up and down without success we stopped to ask a local about it. With a friendly smile he told us that we actually were at the station and behind him there was in fact a dusty, small gas pump containing a few litres of petrol.
With fuel and packed lunch we started our journey on the roads of Otres. On the paved streets until the small Sihanoukville Airport the maximum speed of 80 km/h is doable if you are careful. To our surprise, even in the village next to it the speed limit was still that high and obviously not recommended. Jessica got a bit of bad luck, as the screen on her helmet wasn’t attached properly and she felt the need to hold it with one hand while the other one was wrapped around me to be safe on the crazy streets of Cambodia.

ream national park vegan world explorer
entrance to the Ream National Park

The first barrier we came across was after 30 minutes from Otres. The entrance fee ended up to be a minor expense of 1000 Riel (0,25$) at the first hut and a second one of 5$ deeper into the park. Prices are clearly shown on a board so you shouldn’t be scammed. Our question about the accessibility of the park by bike was finally answered, when the man lifted the second barrier and a large road emerged in front of us. The red and dusty tracks lead through the entire park and are also as expected full of holes and stones you should avoid while the lush green trees are passing by. We made our way to the coast and yet another barrier, where a ranger checked our ticket and showed us where to park the bike. We were surprised to find a tourist-free paradise laying in front of us: white sand, turquoise blue water and a wooden bridge to the small Thinker Island.

ream national park vegan world explorer
Thinker Island

Only the staff of a restaurant (the only building at the beach) hinted at an upcoming group of people while preparing the tables. From the beach, an inconspicious path lead us in the jungle again, this time by foot. And there they were: a travel group passed us and after counting 30 people, we had the wilderness for ourselves again.

After exploring the track, we headed back to the bike. Our next stop would be the swamp, where we hoped to take a boat trip up the mangrove river. As you need to make an appointment before or visit with a group, there was no boat at the end of the passage waiting for us. But the walk itself was stunning and worth it and actually the best part of the Ream National Park. We crossed the mangrove forest over wooden bridges above the wetlands, surrounded by tall, thin trees and all kinds of butterflies and dragonflies buzzing around. The cracking wood underneath our feet reminded us to be careful – I had already broken through a moldy plate on the first pathway at the beach! Noises from far away indicated shy birds and monkeys. Not a single soul we came across – that helped to soak in the beauty of the lush green flora and busy fauna.

Back at the start of the trail we were relieved our bike was still there, given it was a bit risky leaving it for such a long time alone in the middle of nowhere. Since dark clouds had covered the sky by now, we decided to get back to our stay in Otres. Only a few minutes after our arrival, rain poured down like it was the end of the world, forcing us to stay longer at the resort, but not keeping us from going into the pool.

Vegan in Sihanoukville and Otres

As the rainfall decreased in the evening, we rode to Sihanoukville to grab a bite. Burgers and salad at the Dao of Life, a totally vegan place above a regular restaurant, were delicious but literally only “a bite”. After our trip my stomach craved for more and so we went to another place to eat a second time.

As seen on the pictures: vegan breakfast (scrambled tofu, fruit and tea) at Jin Restaurant in Otres, Burger and salad at the Dao of Life and waffles at the Bamboo Bar in Sihanoukville.

Ferry to Koh Rong Samloem

On the next morning, a bus picked us up and took us to the ferry to Koh Rong Samloem – an island we had many expectations of. When you walk through Sihanoukville, it is impossible not to stumble upon billboards, ferry agencies and ticket sales promoting the two Koh Rong islands. Koh Rong is apparently “a backpackers haven”, where many tourists gather to party. We did not want to take part in this and decided to go to Samloem, a quiet island where we could relax for a few days.

Jim
Author

Cambodia Travel Log

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