Going Again: Cambodia, Rest at Veranda

Why do we rest here? As Trish put it “It never disappoints.”

I took many pictures the last time I stayed at Veranda. It was raining, which made the stone walkways clean and reflective with water, great for photos. This time the weather was perfect for sitting at the pool, taking a hike, thinking and writing in beautiful places.

The jungle is lush and full of noises around our bungalows. A trailing vine is lodged in our bathroom skylight, along with a few small lizards that call it home. Birds fly around in the rafters of Secret Restaurant, accustomed to sneaking into the morning breakfast buffet for some rice or whatever else they can steal. There are so many good views with comfortable seating that I have trouble deciding which one to enjoy.

What makes a place restful? For me it means some things which are decidedly Western, but I am who I am and cannot fool myself into thinking I love to “tough” it all the time.  I like:

  • Reliable wifi, easy to access and in lots of places
  • Security, room locks that work, a safe, reasonable amount of privacy
  • Cleanliness – clean, clean, clean
  • Good maintenance – my air conditioner was leaking water and a man with a ladder was here within minutes, at night, to fix it. Things work that are supposed to work.
  • Good food – there is regular delivery of organic produce, although I don’t know what that means over here
  • Simplicity – the natural stone and wood materials are found everywhere here, the colors are lovely and restful
  • Peaceful people – soft spoken, helpful and courteous, all

Veranda has all this and does it with a difference that clearly reflects the Cambodian culture. It’s not exactly like any place else that I’ve ever been. Love to rest here. Thank you  Cambodia.20170611_170727

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I don’t usually do a lot of bathroom pics, but isn’t this lovely?

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Veranda Natural Resort: The Cambodia Saga

Veranda Natural Resort

sky, mountains, sea and jungle  in one beautiful view from the Infinity Pool
sky, mountains, sea and jungle in one beautiful view from the Infinity Pool
Dr. V Chen, Dr. Julia Dietz and midwife Bora Kon at the Infinity Pool, Veranda Natural Resort
Dr. V Chen, Dr. Julia Dietz and midwife Bora Kon at the Infinity Pool, Veranda Natural Resort

This is a pretty awesome place. We have already decided that Julie, Bora and Vchen will get married this year and come here for their honeymoons. Hunsaders have been here in the summer for three years now and have gotten acquainted with the owner and his family. They are Chinese and have invested a lot of time and effort into this project and are quite proud of it.

As I said, the driveway to the resort is unpaved, muddy and steep. The resort itself is built on the side of a mountain that is covered with jungle – trees of all kinds, vines, undergrowth, birds and animals, giant centipedes, giant snails – these are the things I’ve seen.

The “natural” part of the resort name is evident throughout the establishment. All the construction is wood, stucco and stone and done beautifully and skillfully. At any point you find yourself, you can’t really see any other part of the resort. The plantings and rock walls hide all views except of the ocean and islands in the distance. Being on the mountainside gives the layout a distinctly vertical dimension. All the stairs and pathways are of rock and tile of several styles. The furniture is mostly from large wood slabs, root structures, and trunks of trees. Trish said one year a large tree had just fallen near the pool and they were already cutting it up to make something of it. Many of the large rock slabs have sedimentary lines in them just like tree rings. All the lighting is hidden under sea shells embedded in the rock. In the rooms the complimentary toiletries are in tiny stoneware vases and are made of natural products. There are signs encouraging conservation of energy. Here is a tour of the beautiful accommodations…

I appreciated the coffee and tea service in the room – the cups were big enough to hold more than two sips and there were small spoons to stir. A complimentary plate of fruit was delivered to our room the first afternoon. There was a hair dryer in the bathroom, and not only shampoo but also conditioner available. The doors were heavy, solid wood about 2 inches thick and moved quietly on their hinges (loved this!). The room had a lot of built in table and shelf space which made it so easy to find a place for suitcases and computers. The staff was always watching to see what guests needed. There was no bad food. Julie and I both had a massage package which was about two hours long and very nice. Honestly, there were so many beautiful places to hang out here that it was hard to decide where to go, and we didn’t get to all of them (so we will have to go back!).

Seating area at the  Secret Restaurant, Veranda Natural Resort
Seating area at the Secret Restaurant, Veranda Natural Resort
Swing seating made of natural wood pieces
Swing seating made of natural wood pieces
An elevated walkway through the jungle
An elevated walkway through the jungle
poolside
poolside with some of that remarkable stonework
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Peaceful spa area
Tea after our massage session
Tea after our massage session
Tree root chair
Tree root chair
leading to Secret Restaurant
leading to Secret Restaurant
...where they serve a breakfast buffet with everything imaginable
…where they serve a breakfast buffet with everything imaginable
one of the many beckoning stairs
one of the many beckoning stairs
It rained the whole time and I still LOVED it.
It rained the whole time and I still LOVED it!

I have to stop. I have way too many pictures of this gorgeous place. It has mystery, secrecy, natural beauty and you should go there!

The Cambodia Saga: A New Location

Rain, rain, go away... notice the moto leaving a wake as it travels down the road.
Rain, rain, go away… notice the moto leaving a wake as it travels down the road.

It was another stormy night, and it is now another stormy morning. This weather pattern is so persistent with it’s overcast sky, steady trickle of rain, and torrential outbursts every couple of hours – kind of like a spoiled, grumpy child. But the children do not complain or fuss. They are pretty happy, no matter what. Odd, huh?

Our morning message by “Daddy Mike” was a review of the whole retreat. He reminded them that being more than conqueror meant standing up to peer pressure, recognizing authority, choosing good friends and resisting worldliness. They went over their memorized verse in Khmer and in English again.

Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God than is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

As they left the hotel a little later, those were the things we reminded them about along with our goodby hugs.

I have to say, the silence in the hotel after they left was deafening.

the lower entrance to Veranda gives just a hint of the beautiful stone and wood inside.
the lower entrance to Veranda gives just a hint of the beautiful stone and wood inside.

We packed up and climbed into tuk tuks for a short ride to our next stop, Veranda Natural Resort (www.veranda-resort.asia). It is on the side of a gentle, jungle covered mountain. The drive is steeply uphill and not paved so halfway there, our tuk tuk driver stopped and said no further. The mud and slipperiness made it impossible unless we got out and lightened the load. This might lead you to expect a less than wonderful experience ahead.

Exactly the opposite. This is the most awesome resort I have ever visited. If I could live here, I would.

And this is the open door to the room I would live in, really.  Video tour, next post.
And this is the open door to the room I would live in, really. Video tour, next post.

Describing this place deserves a whole post unto itself and it will come tomorrow with Tuesday Travel #8.

We had lunch and free time the rest of the day until it was time to have dinner. I was able to get online, review my pictures, stroll around the resort, take a dip in the pool and enjoy some time with Julie.  Our team had dinner together and talked about our impressions of the trip and our plans for the future. The evening ended with a game of cards designed to make enemies of friends (kidding, it was fun).

One of many photo moments I couldn't resist while strolling around Veranda.
One of many photo moments I couldn’t resist while strolling around Veranda.
There is a decidedly vertical dimension to this awesome resort.
There is a decidedly vertical dimension to this awesome resort.