Arriving in Otres Beach, we spent a good hour combing up and down the two dozen or so guesthouses that lined the sand and beach road, comparing rooms and prices. With no 3G or WiFi to check Tripadvisor, and with the Lonely Planet recommendation of the Koh Kong Guesthouse still fresh in our minds, we were understandably taking our time to have a close look.
We saw lots of nice (and some not-so-nice) places, but Mien Mien looked good. 15$ a night for a double room right on the beach, private bathroom included. Sold. I was sure I remembered the name from somewhere, but not quite sure where… Check in, get online and – ah. That’s why the name rings a bell: we realize that some people are saying they had a rat problem. Uh-oh. This is confirmed the following morning when we find either rat or mouse crap in our bathroom, and later on the bed. So we said “nope” before having any real-life encounters, shouldered our bags and got right out of there.
We ate breakfast that morning at Sunshine Café, further up the beach, and were happy to find a spacious, clean double room at $12 per night. Shared bathroom, but whatever. It’s not on Tripadvisor and reviews are lacking online, so after extending our stay to seven nights (and reluctantly leaving only then) we thought it deserved a bit of exposure.
First – the good. Only six rooms – three bungalows, three rooms above the restaurant – all are smack on the beach. Our bungalow has the basics: fan, ‘squito net, double bed and is plenty big enough. The sand is wide on this part of Otres, they have plentiful loungers and comfy chairs. The massage girls and sunglass salesmen are present but not too pushy (slightly worse on slow days… I couldn’t get out of having my legs threaded after a bit of a haggling mishap on my part). The staff are always present and very friendly. We felt that this might be one of the few if only Khmer-owned place in Otres. Bathrooms were cleaned every morning. Two very friendly resident dogs are just the icing on the cake.
We ate breakfast, and usually lunch here every day. Delicious fresh fruit shakes – I go for watermelon, Richard for banana and peanut. The prices are some of the cheapest on the beach and the food is great (lots of vegan options!) – definitely recommend the mango salad and amok vegetables, recipes will likely follow. And seriously, the portions were *huge*. Honestly, we like to eat – a lot – and most meals finish with Richard licking his plate clean and then begging for my scraps. It is not often that we find a place where we can order a single dish and comfortably split it between us. So as well as being reasonably priced and delicious, we were kept well nourished for these hard days on the sand. In the evenings they have a barbecue – sadly meat and fish only – and light all the tables with tea lights. The atmosphere is hard to beat as the waves lap the shore by your feet and reggae music fills the air.
Now, the bad. We don’t have a problem with shared bathrooms, particularly when living on the beach and the extent of washing is pretty much rinsing the salt away. The bathrooms are cleaned every day, but because they are shared between the guests and the restaurant, they can be a bit dirty come evening time. The water from the shower is island water – that is, it comes from a tank and is a bit brown and stinky. Although that’s true of anywhere on the beach, not just here. Less forgivably, the bathrooms are in a mixed state of repair – the toilet seat is not properly attached in one, the light went in the other a few days ago and is still not fixed. Finally, our bungalow and the one adjacent are right next to the kitchen – so kitchen noise and (sometimes) smells do filter through. Not that we spend that much time in the room. The beach can be a little noisy in the evenings, but on Otres pretty much everything is done and quietened down by 10pm.
Minor quibbles when your day basically consists of: get up, work out on the beach and then run into the sea to cool down. Eat fresh breakfast and fruit shake, then commence sun bathing. Eat lunch. Sun bathe. Sea. Sun. Sea. Sun. Sun. Buy fruit from fruit lady. Sun. Massage. Sun. Shower. Sunset. Eat dinner. Bed. Repeat as necessary.
Tip: try and get the bungalow that faces right on to the sea.