Sihanoukville is the hub to reach tropical Cambodian islands such as Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, famous for their warm waters and laid-back atmosphere. Sihanoukville itself lacks charm, but a few kilometres south of the centre, the beautiful beach of Otres makes up for it, and is easily accessible by tuk-tuk. Being quite touristy, horseback riding it is an off the beaten path way of exploring the countryside and the beach, leaving the crowds behind.
Horseback riding through rice fields where herds of buffalos are grazing, past a few scattered houses and across rivers, offers a completely different and more authentic vision of Otres Beach, otherwise lined up with wooden shacks, guest houses, hammocks, bars and restaurants, with as many tuk-tuk drivers as tourists.
With a pretty decent live music scene nightly, no wonder the early morning is rather quiet at Otres Beach: only our horses are stepping on the fine white sand merging with the turquoise water of the South China Sea. The moment is magical: the sound of the waves, a few islands in the background, palm trees and fine sand.
“What about a swim?” asks Natalie joyfully. It does sound very tempting, and I am surprised to see her get off her horse and start untying the saddle. Owner of the Liberty Ranch, Natalie is passionate about her horses, and I should have guessed that the consent of Charly, my white stallion was essential!
I undress and do the same, putting the saddle against a tree to avoid the sand. I follow Natalie into the sea: the water temperature is ideal, and my horse seems to agree as soon, we are both taming a few waves.
I am going further away from the shore and start swimming. Charly follows me, swimming as well. Side by side, I mount on its bare back. I thought arriving on the beach was magical! Now, this is truly unique. We swim around together, and I am taking in the view on the close-by islands and beautiful shore line.
After both cooling down nicely, we gently make our way back to shore where a few bananas await. While I am petting my white horse and rewarding it with this local snack, I observe the quiet beach with its postcard-perfect setting in the early morning light, sipping a sugarcane juice. What could be a better introduction to discover the Cambodian islands!
Marcella & Claire
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