dreamy SongSaa Island, Cambodia

Instead of rushing straight back home after trekking in Bhutan, my husband, Ed, and I wanted to take a break to relax and refresh.  But where?

After being disappointed (disgusted?) by the tourist overflow and proliferation of loud-mouthed guides at Machu Picchu this past spring, we vowed to avoid all Tourist Attractions.  So beachy places near Bangkok were out, as was Angkor Watt–both too accessible and too over-run with tourists.

Our travel agent introduced the idea of a remote Cambodian island in the Gulf of Thailand.  She warned us that getting there involved flying to Bangkok, staying overnight in Phnom Penh, a 4-hour car ride to the coast, then an hour boat ride to the island.  But she said the remoteness of this private island was part of its appeal.

After the Khmer Rouge decimated this country in the mid-70s, killing a third of the population–1.3 million people–I’d had no interest in going anywhere near The Killing Fields.

For some reason–was it that the genocide was over three decades ago?–I relented.  However, in my traveler’s mind, our destination was a remote island, not Cambodia proper. We had no expectations for Phnom Penh, and we really enjoyed our one night there.  After being in the primitive, pastoral landscape of Bhutan, finding ourselves in the bustle of downtown Phnom Penh was exciting and interesting.

Raffles, a gorgeous hotel built in 1929, was sparred during the Kymer Rouge because it been converted to a hospital.  Everyone at the hotel, kept saying to us, Thank you for coming to visit us.

So we had this unexpectedly lovely feeling about Cambodia even before we made the four-hour drive to the coast.  From the moment the boat pulled up to the dock at SongSaa, dreamy is the word that best describes this resort developed by a husband and wife team from Australia.

We stayed in an over-the-water villa, which exceeded our expectation that this would be a second honeymoon.

SongSaa doesn’t disappoint.  Even the restroom next to the main restaurant, is simple and gorgeous.

I especially love these images–of Ed swimming in the Gulf of Thailand, and then a dinner table set up in the Gulf of Thailand.

SongSaa casts a spell.  I told one of the people working there that I hadn’t brought any shoes.  I needed to buy some flip-flops.  She said, You don’t need to wear shoes here.  For four days, I went barefoot, enjoying the warm, white sand.  Delicious!