Every so often on our RTW trip, even on our shoestring budget, the accommodation was the destination.
That was just the case for our visit to one of Cambodia’s prettiest coastal towns, Kep.
It was a short hop from the (relatively) bright lights of Phnom Penh to Kep, which is so sleepy it could barely be described as a town, but it did boast a concrete crab statue big enough for us to realise we had arrived.
After stopping for a quick lunch near the sandy cove – a neat but modest pile of sand that would not really suffice to label it a beach resort – we found a tuktuk to take us up the bumpy dirt path to Jasmina Valley Eco-Resort, the eco-lodge we’d booked (www).
Upon arrival in the blistering early afternoon heat, we were greeted with a zesty glass of iced lime juice and cold face towels: not the sort of welcome we’re used to, which usually often involves a good ten minutes of mosquito extermination and scouting for dodgy electrics before we can even think about relaxing.
The resort is nestled into the hills above Kep and is formed of about ten separately constructed rooms all made using local, natural materials. Although we had booked one of the cheapest rooms, it was nonetheless beautifully decorated and our balcony looked out over the lush green hillside of banana trees and shrubs.
Beyond peaceful, it was hard to imagine that anything bad would ever happen here. War and the horrors of Cambodia’s recent past couldn’t have reached here, I mused. If it did, you would never know. It’s the sort of place where you feel as if you are tiptoeing lightly over the natural world, whispering quietly so it doesn’t notice you’re on its territory.
We only left the confines of the resort to walk up through the forest one afternoon to catch the sunset, spending the rest of the time reading and sunbathing on the balcony, munching on delicious stone-fired pizzas from the outdoor oven, indulging in the huge breakfasts and chatting to the other guests over cold beers.
Jasmine Valley is something its friendly owners must be very proud of, and deservedly so.
We never wanted to leave but our wallets were starting to make alarmed noises and anyway, other adventures beckoned.
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