Just Relax

By Jane Mountain | April 24, 2014

13,260 km so far.

The tuk tuk pulls up in front of our hotel at 9:45am sharp. Being on Cambodia time, we’d expected it to be at least half an hour late, so the punctuality caught us by surprise. We quickly paid our bill, grabbed our stripped-down set of luggage, waved goodbye to our bikes (which are staying at The Small Hotel for a few days without us) and jumped into the tuk tuk.


We’re headed to Ten103 on the island of Koh Ta Kiev, just off the shores of Sihanoukville. Sihanoukville is backpacker party central, with each bar competing to see who can play their music loudest and sell their beer the cheapest. Koh Ta Kiev is like going back in time. But I get ahead of myself.

The tuk tuk wound through the little streets of town all the way to Otres Beach, about 13 km outside of Sihanoukville. Finally, it bumped itself onto a red dirt track and rolled to a juddering stop. We hopped out and, rounding a corner, got our first real glimpse of the sea.

Loading the boat to Koh Ta Kiev one ice brick at a time.

Loading the boat to Koh Ta Kiev one ice brick at a time.

Wow. Now we know why so many people herd themselves here for beach holidays.

The water waved away into the distance, sparkling in the sunlight just like Robert Redford’s eyes (a reference for our senior readers!). All along the beach lounge chairs lay empty while beach umbrellas stood to attention between each pair. At this time of year, there is barely anyone here, so it was a quiet scene that unfolded around us.

Loading supplies for the island, at Otres Beach.

Loading supplies for the island, at Otres Beach.

As the staff from Ten103 carried dripping blocks of ice, big bottles of drinking water, flats of eggs, cartons of beer, and burlap bags filled with fresh food to the boat, we gazed out across the water, wondering just what awaited us at the end of our journey.

Almost Paradise

The little long tail boat putt putt putts its way across the sea. The guests (there are five of us today) gaze out onto the perfect water, feeling the stress of travel (all that moving! and going! and doing!) drain away.

Raising the anchor, at Otres Beach.

Raising the anchor, at Otres Beach.

The boat drivers are doing the same, one lounging in a hammock sipping a can of coke, headphones on, while the driver puffs away on a cigarette and lazily steers our course.

Then Koh Ta Kiev sneaks into view, little huts peaking out from the jungle, watching our arrival.

Our first glimpse of Koh Ta Kiev.

Our first glimpse of Koh Ta Kiev.

We hop off the boat into water, which is the temperature of a Croatian thermal pool, and wade across the sandy bottom to our new home.

Drinking water comes in bottles on Koh Ta Kiev.

Drinking water comes in bottles on Koh Ta Kiev.

An archway of bent tree branches ushers us in, welcoming us to our island paradise.


It is a funny thing to spend an afternoon doing nothing, knowing that there is nothing you need to do.

Hammock lying, the best kind there is.

Hammock lying, the best kind there is.

I never knew there were so many ways to lie down.

Of course, there’s the classic: on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the bed. I composed so many variations on that theme today.

One foot propped on the bed post, one bent leg hanging lazily in mid air. Back on the bed, legs draped over the edge, reaching for the floor. Crossways across the corner of the bed, arms and legs dangling…

After several hours, I had a symphony.

The waterfront at Ten103.

The waterfront at Ten103.

Unwinding is an apt word. Every coil of muscle, every spring of nerve, lets itself relax, stretch out, and melt in a puddle of contented sighs. The brain, which is usually quick-firing ideas, suggestions, and nagging thoughts, slows down into a sweet pudding of gooey delicious nothingness.

There is time for everything. Watching an ant’s meandering progress across the floor, listening to the buzz-saw of cicadas in the trees, smelling the salt on the breeze, tracing the sun’s progress until it slowly sinks below the horizon.

Sunset from the deck of Ten103, Koh Ta Kiev.

Sunset from the deck of Ten103, Koh Ta Kiev.

We have only booked our cabin, aka The Crab Shack, for three nights, but I suspect we’ll be extending our stay.  


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  6. Comment by Cassie

    Cassie April 30, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Fantastic, it sounds simply fantastic.

  7. Comment by Diane

    Diane April 30, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Positively poetic ! Wish Koh Ta Kiev was a little easier to access. I am so impressed with the design and operation of your blog every time I read it. It is so beautifully simple to navigate and so much better than all the sites that I consult on a daily basis. Thanks.

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