If you dream of a sleepy fishing village that has poor wifi connection and where time seems not to be a fixed concept, this is the place for you. You get all your basic needs filled but not much more than that. And, of course, magical white sand beaches... Hang out at one of the many guesthouses/bars/restaurants and just let the days pass…. Or go snorkeling or diving if you get bored after a couple of days.
Stay at: Easy Tiger
This place has great food and a really nice vibe going on. The bar is made out of an old boat and the bungalows here are really nice.
Eat at: The Fishing Hook
Go here to eat the best food in the village. Susan Parker, who is the chef and owner, makes all the food from local ingrediens. Make your reservation in before hand and make sure to get there in time. Not only is the buffet the best food you can find here, but Susan also works hard to get back as much as she can to the society. That means dubble thumbs up!
Susan Parker moved from Stockton California, five years ago after falling in love with M’Pai Bay whilst volunteering at the Marine Conservation together with her Cambodian husband (who’s also from California) Steven, or Pheakdey, as the inhabitants of M’Pai Bay call him.
During the time they did for the Conservation, they stayed at the only guest house in the village at that time, Yellow Moon.
She immediately got the feeling of home due to the atmosphere and the people who lived in the village. Therefore, they decided to try and open a restaurant, after recommendation from the chief of the village, starting of with only one table and a dorm with 4 beds in the blue house on the pier. But first they had to help with the reconstructions of both the pier and the houses, which were in really bad condition.
Now, five years later, nothing is the same as it was then. “Everything changed two years ago when the speed ferry started to come here”, she says.
“We have electricity and running water now which we didn’t back then, and it’s much easier to go Koh Rong or the main land if we need things we can’t naturally find here.”
I’m curious what the tourism has done to this place and she tells me that this far it’s all good. “The locals have better standard of living now and everyone affords to eat 3 meals a day which is an improvement”.
And what about her restaurant the Fishing Hook?
“We started of having the restaurant open with an a la carte menu all day, but with time more tourist started coming here and I ended up in the kitchen all day. I was as stressed as I was back in Stockton with no time to sleep or eat, so I had to change the concept.”
Therefore she now does a buffet for dinner instead. With only reservations and people has to pay in advance with no re found. Since she knows the locals she gets the best fresh produce there is to find, including the fish they put on the barbecue every evening. To minimize food waste, people has to pay 2$ per 100g food they throw away. The money, including the no re fundable money for cancelation goes to the medical center and back to the community. And everything that’s left from the buffet each night she gives to the local inhabitants.
She finish the interview by saying:
“ I’m not doing this because of money, but to enjoy life and I think it’s important to do what you can with what you got.”
And we couldn’t agree more.
Favourite dish: Okra tempura and the fresh squid from the barbecue at The Fishing Hook
The fresh squid on the grill is to die for, and the vegetable tempura were the best we had in ages. A must if you go here!
Dont miss out on:
-Sunsets at Dragon fly
M’Pai Bay is located on the northern top of Koh Rong Samloem. That means you can enjoy both sunrise and sunsets here. (Christian are crazy about both of them). The place you enjoy the sunset the most is with no doubt at the Dragonfly. Just a short walk from the beach and you’re there.
-The beach at Driftwood
Take the boat or walk for about an hour to get to ”Drift wood”, where you can find some unspoiled perfect beach you’ll have completely by yourself.
Conscious traveling advise:
Bring your own water bottle (or buy here) and buy refills instead of new plastic bottle every time you need water
Fill up a bag with rubbish and get a free beer in return from ”The Drift”
It gets its name from the local fishing community called Village Number 23 as in the Khmer language 'M'pai Bay' means twenty-three