When you think of Reiki and other forms of alternative/energy healing, Sihanoukville is probably not the first place that comes to mind. When Alyssa White, a Reiki practitioner based in Phnom Penh, told her clients and friends she was going to offer free introductory healing sessions at our new vegan/vegetarian restaurant, Dao of Life over Easter weekend, they were dubious, but they were wrong. Alyssa was booked out all day Saturday and Sunday and is going to start offering her services regularly on weekends.
I managed to squeeze in a session with Alyssa on Sunday afternoon. Everything was working against us and it was just a short introductory session, but when I took the kids to the beach later, I noticed me knee wasn’t quite as painful as it should have been. Walking on sand is usually excruciatingly painful and I’d already been for a swim in the morning, so by rights, I should have been completely miserable. It hurt, but it wasn’t intolerable. That’s saying something. Anyway, I’ve booked an appointment with Alyssa in two weeks and look forward to seeing the results.
A vegan/vegetarian restaurant probably wouldn’t have been a huge success in Sihanoukville a few years ago, either, especially one located on Ekareach Street halfway between downtown and the Hill. Well, Dao of Life is already a popular restaurant and has a regular expat clientele. I had a delicious vegie burger today, but that barely scratches the surface of all they have on offer. Between the quality of the food, Shazi’s scintillating personality and the nice vibe of the restaurant, I reckon it is only going to become more popular. Shazi tells me they might start having regular yoga classes upstairs, too. A few yoga practitioners have set up shop in Sihanoukville, but most move on after awhile, leaving students stranded. Hopefully, she’ll find a permanent practitioner. I know there is an interest in yoga here and the climate is perfect for it.
The Changing Face of Sihanoukville
When I came to Sihanoukville in 2007, it was a very different place from what it is today. I liked everything about it except for the majority of the expats I met. They all seemed to be running away from life in one way or the other. There were exceptions, of course, but that was the general vibe. Things started turning around after the airport opened and tourists from Siem Reap started coming here, but I really noticed a difference in 2011-2012, after Serendipity Road and the road to Otres beach were paved. After mini-resorts like Tamu, bungalows like Mushroom Point and beachside restaurant/bungalows like Papa Pippo opened up and were successful, others followed and changed Sihanoukville for the better.
Koh Rong made a big difference, too. Backpackers looking for a mellow island experience started coming in droves. While a lot of them didn’t discover much more of Sihanoukville than than the area around the pier at Serendipity beach, others stayed on and discovered there was more to it than the party zone at Ochheuteal. The time was ripe for a place like Dao of Life.