Backpacking / Southeast Asia / travel

Arcadia

Arcadia, a little hostel tucked away down a jungle-clad dirt path about a 15 minute tuk tuk drive away from the town of Kampot, here gives me some of my fondest memories of Cambodia. The wooden built open bar and hammock area was the main social area, with an open deck onto the river providing the morning communal shower as everyone woke up and jumped straight in. Our room was an open wooden hut, with no door, wooden built bunk-beds, mosquito nets and limited lighting…it was brilliant. It felt as though I was sleeping outside, being able to lie in bed listening to the sounds coming from the jungle surrounding me, and the river which passed just below my hut was incredible. The main difference with this hostel was the tab system, all drinks and food were put onto individual tabs behind the bar, which meant no one had to worry about carrying money, keeping an eye on our purses or counting the pennies, it provided a very laid back homely atmosphere. The other major benefit of this hostel was the staff, with it being set up by 3 friends, 2 Aussies and an Irishman, acquiring new staff as they pass through on their travels it was always a fun chat at the wooden counter.

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The days at Arcadia consisted mainly of food, lazing in hammocks, playing cards and jumping in the mountain-side river, a perfect world away from city life. The owners of Arcadia are continually coming up with new ideas to improve the hostel, one of their previous ideas resulted in The Blob, a giant inflatable in the river, where after numerous dignity losing attempts at getting on and into position at one end, the other end is jumped on from the bar, which ultimately sends you flying high and crashing down into the river. Great fun! There is also a rickety bamboo tower which you can climb, grab the rope and swing down into the river, where you need to hit the right spot to avoid the shallow area, safe to say I didn’t try that one, as my aim is not always brilliant!

Roxanne and I had planned to travel into Kampot, hire motorbikes and head up the nearby mountain, to check out the views and the seemingly random casino…however we were fully embraced into Arcadia life and did not leave our wooden riverside paradise for the duration of our stay. The exception of that was our day tubing, a big group of us equipped with tubes, beer, inflatable kangaroos and crocodiles, we squeezed into 3 tiny tuktuks and headed upriver. It was a day to celebrate Tim one of the owners birthday (it was also LuLu the resident dogs birthday celebration), we slowly drifted down the river, cold beers in hand to return to our Arcadia home, where we carried on the party with a BBQ, beer pong, table tennis tournament, fireworks over the river and a whole load of fancy dress. It was a brilliant night, topped off by a personalized birthday rap by one of the guys working behind the bar. I couldn’t see myself ever wanting to leave this place.

It was here at Arcadia where I spotted a book about my local football team Stoke City, whilst flicking through it I was approached by a guy asking why I was reading it, I explained I was from Stoke and was wondering myself who was reading it…before I knew it we were the best of friends, he too was from Stoke, we reminisced about High Lane oatcakes, Hanley city centre and the wonders of Stoke On Trent. He has been the only Stokie I have met on my travels so far. Roxanne marvelled at our “northern accents” and slang, and having so far been unable to experience an oatcake delight for herself, she struggled to understand my excitement. He has permanently left England and now lives in Sianoukville Cambodia…with a freezer stocked full of oatcakes and an invite to join him for some, I was well happy duck.

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On our final day a big group of us left together, with some of the original staff and long time bar workers leaving it was an emotional day for some, with sad goodbyes to Arcadia, where I could have easily spent another week relaxing we all eagerly headed on to the next destination.

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