Friday, September 29, 2017

Penguin Pablo Bungalows: A Sweet Retreat in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

http://www.blissfulguro.com/2017/09/penguin-pablo-bungalows-sihanoukville-beach-resort-blog.html

"And how did you come up with the resort’s name?" I asked Chai, the resident manager. "Oh, it’s from a Disney movie back in the 40’s," he replied. So Pablo is a penguin, the film's main character, and penguins go usually in packs when they go back home, thus, Penguin Pablo Bungalows--quite unique. Our conversation went from that to Khmer people's history and so on; our usual early morning chat in our home at Sihanoukville's Otres Beach.

Me and my buddy were almost halfway through our annual two-month summer backpacking trip, Same Same Summer Trip 2017, where we went back to some of our favorite countries to explore what we missed on our past visits. Sihanoukville was our third stop in Cambodia. After rediscovering Malaysia, we headed to Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam afterwards (check here for discounted tours, transportation and activities in Phnom Penh). 

Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
Penguin Pablo's Reception Area
Penguin Pablo is a boutique resort on the quieter side of Cambodia's Sihanoukville. Me and my buddy dubbed the area as Otres 1.5 as it’s located in the middle of the famous Otres Beach 1 and Otres Beach 2. It may not be a beachfront property but the location is good because it’s a mere two-minute walk to the beach and to the local Otres Village.

They currently offer six originally-designed villas set on a lush garden and they also have an all-day restaurant open for both guests and non-guests. This lovely setting made us book four nights here, but its serenity and the staff's hospitality made us stay for an additional night.

Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
Beach Towels are Provided for Guests
Fresh from our seven-hour train ride from Phnom Penh, we arrived at Penguin Pablo around two in the afternoon. The moment we got off from the tuk tuk our resort arranged for us, we were greeted by three of their staff and then went on to assist us with our huge backpacks.

We went directly to the open-aired lobby where glasses of refreshing iced green tea and homemade vanilla ice cream topped with cocoa bits were waiting for us. It instantly brought the spirits back on our listless bodies as Chai chatted with us like we’re long lost friends catching up.

Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
Welcome Drinks
Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
Welcome Treats
Right after our quick chat, we were ushered to our home for five days (check here for discounted room rates). Our charming bungalow has a unique design; built in a round-shape manner, the white concrete structure is made warm by a native cogon roof.

I went straight to the sliding door, which opens to a spacious bedroom, and a circular concrete bedstead with blue mattress greeted me.

Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
Tropical Vibe
Our funky room had all the comforts we needed for a relaxing holiday. We had a rattan coffee table with chairs, mini fridge, wardrobe dresser, individually-powered AC, and side tables with night lamps and electric mosquito swatter.

Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
Our Bungalow for Six Days
The tropical theme echoes through the en suite toilet and bath; a bamboo ladder serves as a towel rack, the mirror frame was made from rattan, and the trash bin, a handwoven basket. 

But more importantly, there’s hot and cold shower as well as toiletries.

Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
En Suite Toilet and Bath
Out of our bungalow, we have our own cabana hut with two rattan swing chairs. With lush greens surrounding us, it evoked a peaceful tropical vacation away from the party beach crowd; a sweet retreat in the middle of our backpacking trip.

My buddy was still busy unpacking when I collapsed on our cutesy bed. Twisting and turning, I felt like a kid entering a new adventure, the same feeling I had when I first slept on a four-poster bed with sheer canopy.

Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
Quirky. Cutesy. Comfy.
And as expected, I tucked myself under the sheets and snoozed effortlessly. It was dinnertime when my buddy awoke me.

Penguin Pablo was blanketed with countless stars. We could hear the waves from the sea, but we haven’t peeked at it yet--blame it on my sleeping addiction. Haha.

Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
You Should Try the Unique Menu From their In-House Restaurant
We decided to have dinner at their in-house restaurant. From the menu, they offer a fusion of Asian and Western cuisines. They seem to have a lot of unique dishes and it made me order more than what we normally have for dinner.

We feasted on Marinated Khmer Beef Salad ($4.50), Rice Burger ($7.00), Fish Amok ($6.00), and Japanese Curry ($6.00). I was torn whether we should get more or just save it for our next meals as I again scanned the dishes they offer. 

Each meal at Penguin Pablo is freshly prepared so serving time was longer than usual. But it’s worth the wait.

We got to try the salad first. The beef was tender and juicy while the fresh veggies added the right crunch. The sweet-sour and spicy sauce blended the ingredients very well.

Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
Marinated Khmer Beef Salad ($4.50)
Carrots, cucumber, beans, green pepper, peanut, chili,
basil and beef served with sweet-sour and spicy sauce.
The burger was served next. Its aesthetic alone will make you stare at it for minutes, and that breaking it would be a shame. After taking a few snaps, I grabbed it and took a ravenous bite. And it was delicious! The brittle crust from the rice bun complemented well with the fried chicken patty in teriyaki sauce.

And we’re not through yet.

Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
Rice Burger ($7)
Rice bun burger with selected meat. Served with vegetables and Japanese fries. 
The fish amok (which we already tried at Khmer Kitchen in Siem Reap) was seasoned well with creamy curry coconut milk partnered with steamed rice. The Japanese curry on the other hand was equally good. The deep-fried veggies were covered with tasty batter, forming a perfect crust.

Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
Fish Amok ($6)
A popular traditional Khmer coconut milk curry in homemade spice with
broccoli, red pepper, bok choy, basil leaves, and steamed rice.
Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
Japanese Curry ($6)
Traditional Japanese curry with deep-fried vegetables (potato chips, pumpkin, broccoli, red and green peppers,
and eggplant) and served with steamed rice.
We were then offered to try one round of Samai ($5.00). This locally produced handcrafted alcohol drink is usually hard to find because of its limited production. Although I’m not a rum drinker, I enjoyed its smooth taste and hints of oak, vanilla, honey, and dark chocolate.

Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
Samai Rum ($5)
Handcrafted rum with the best quality Cambodian sugarcane. Distilled in 1800's copper still and aged in
Freanch and American oak barrel with natural hints of oak, vanilla, caramelized honey, and dark chocolate.




My buddy was preparing his morning coffee when I woke up the next day. The aroma was so inviting that I immediately got up to ask for my own one. We had our coffee sesh on our outdoor lawn as we planned our sightseeing trip. It was a question on whether we should rent a motorbike or hire a tuk tuk (which can be both arranged by the staff).

Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
Our Work Station for Five Days
We ended up lounging some more at the restaurant.

The sea breeze was lulling us back to sleep but we spent the morning catching up with our writing backlogs. Penguin Pablo's complimentary WiFi was fast and reliable that we finished a lot of work that day. That, plus with the help of their iced coffee.

That afternoon, we explored the beach nearby. We were wowed by its raw beauty. The intense sunset left us in awe, it was in complete contrast to the serene environment. It was so gorgeous that it's definitely on one of my top ten breathtaking sunsets to date--although I still don’t have that kind of list yet.

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For three days we explored Otres Village, Otres Beach 1 and Otres Beach 2; all on foot. It was nice to have the luxury of time and the spontaneity of not having to plan what to do each day. Everything was a surprise as we did no research and just asked Penguin Pablo's helpful staff for suggestions. We would go back home with stories of our new adventures while downing glasses of draft Kingdom Beer, a locally-produced beer in Cambodia.

Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
One of Cambodia's Locally-Produced Beer
We left the resort after five days, going on a three-day trip to a nearby island. After which, we went back home to Penguin Pablo where we again stayed for another night.

It felt like a homecoming of some sort as we narrated our misadventures on the overpriced island of Koh Rong Samloem to all the staff. Again, I felt how warm they welcomed us back as they helped us with our bags and prepared our villa.

The next day, we woke up earlier than usual to prepare for our land border crossing to Thailand. Chai helped us secure our tickets for the van and all we needed to do was to be ready on the scheduled pick-up time.

Penguin Pablo Bungalows Sihanoukville Resort
Sihanoukville Retreat
We shared a few more stories as we waited for the shuttle and I was a bit saddened when I a van halted in front of the resort. It was the signal for our departure. All the staff went out to send us off, and as we sped off, I could see their genuine smiles as they waved their farewell.

Penguin Pablo Bungalows is truly a gem in Otres Beach; it’s not every day that you feel the vibe of a home away from home. Much more than its unique villas and its picture-perfect tropical ambiance, it’s the heart that they put in their work to make each guest a part of their home that matters the most. All throughout our stay, they’d always address me as Carla, indeed, I felt like I was back home in the Philippines.


Penguin Pablo Bungalows (check here for discounted room rates)
Otres, Sangkat 4, Otres Beach,
Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Email Address: penguin_pablo@icloud.com





2 comments:

  1. Good food, even better service! Okay din location ah, kahit di beachfront.

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    Replies
    1. Super true! And Otres Beach is love! :)

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