Vegan restaurant in Sihanoukville

I know I just posted something the other day, but I want to share this as soon as possible because it’s the busy season in Sihanoukville. Dao of Life is the only vegan restaurant in Sihanoukville. I’m not a vegan, but their food is delicious and they are the friendliest people in Sihanoukville if not the world.

dao of life vegan restaurant Sihanoukville Cambodia

This is their fourth location. First they were in an out of the way spot up towards the Hill on Ekareach Street. Clever marketing and events drew people to the restaurant in spite of its location. Then they moved to two locations on Serendipity Road. They got more customers, but things didn’t work out too well for them in those locations. Now they’ve moved to the bottom of Serendipity Road. Yasmine is downstairs and Dao of Life has taken the upstairs.

They’re easy to find. Yasmine is the last building on the right facing the pier. I think this is potentially the best location Dao of Life has found. The views are beautiful and they have a geodesic dome covering the restaurant.

dao of life vegan restaurant Sihanoukville CambodiaThat’s Shazia. I’d say she’s the “boss,” but Shazia doesn’t act like a boss. That’s part of the joy of eating at Dao of Life. Everybody is smiling and happy. How they found Nit, I don’t know. Nit is Cambodian. She loves her job and shows it in a million ways.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Buddhist ceremony before the grand opening. A lot of people attended. I had to leave early, but managed to take a photo before I left.

dao of life vegan restaurant Sihanoukville CambodiaThen I returned and had dinner there last night. I was happy to see a couple of customers there. I am under orders to dine early, so seeing people there between 5 and 6 was encouraging.

Excuse me for jabbering on, but I’m trying to write as many words as possible and include “vegan restaurant in Sihanoukville” in my story in hopes of getting the keyword ranked on Google. I want more people to discover Dao of Life in its new location. They deserve to have a successful business. By the way, the view is nice even after dark.

dao of life vegan restaurant Sihanoukville CambodiaOkay, I’m running out of things to say. When you’re in Sihanoukville, visit Dao of Life. You won’t regret it. It’s the only vegan restaurant in Sihanoukville and even if you’re not a vegan or vegetarian, you’ll love the food and the wonderful vibe. You’ll also enjoy the wonderful view and the fresh breezes that waft through the semi open-air restaurant.

Lunch in Otres Village

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I wrote about Otres Village back in 2013. I’ve been back there since then, but haven’t taken pictures. I had some time on my hands the other day, so I decided to have lunch in Otres village. I went to Hacienda, which is right across the street from the Barn, where they have the Otres Market. The Otres Market put this out of the way village on the map.

Legacy Resort Otres village

In 2013, not much had changed on the main road in Otres Village. There was a row of traditional shops on the road, but that was about it. Now it extends around the corner and you can find fairly luxurious guesthouses and bungalows on the main road. The Legacy is probably the nicest, but there are others springing up, including a fair sized hotel.

Main road in Otres village

You take a right turn onto a dirt road to get to the Barn and all the other new restaurants and guesthouses that have been springing up in Otres village. I was a little stunned by how many there are now. There’s even a mini-mart, but it doesn’t look like they’ve stocked it yet. There’s also a small row of shops. Only two were occupied when I drove past, but it’s a sign of the times. Sihanoukville is growing and Otres village is growing with it.

new shops in Otres village

I finally arrived at Hacienda. I knew what I wanted. The last time I went there for lunch, it was to meet Brian Gruber, author of the very excellent book, War: the Afterparty. I tried their falafel last time and it was very good. That’s what I had this time, too, and it was just as good.

Hacienda at Otres village

Hacienda turned out to be a perfect choice for lunch. I could have gone to the beach, but there’s nothing new or different about the beach to me. I wanted a change of scenery. At Hacienda, you’re surrounded by trees and water. I think if I came to Sihanoukville for the first time and knew it was there, I’d stay in one of their bungalows. They’re a deal at $8 a night and the bar/restaurant serves good food at decent prices.

bungalows in Otres village

In spite of its rapid growth, Otres village is still pretty mellow. It might remain that way because that’s why people seem to be drawn to it. Hacienda was playing jazz when I was there. It seemed perfect and was a welcome relief from the nostalgia-rock you hear everywhere in Sihanoukville.

The people at the bar were talking quietly together and most of them were drinking smoothies. That, too, was a relief. Just last week while I was having dinner on the Hill, the woman who runs the bar across the road from the restaurant I was dining in kicked a patron out. She actually knocked him to the ground as she shouted, “Don’t say ‘fuck you’ to me or my family! Get out and don’t come back!”

I love the food at Irina Franca and Raphael’s on the Hill, but sometimes the atmosphere isn’t so great. I like to eat outdoors, but sometimes I eat indoors to escape the blaring music and loud voices. That wasn’t a problem in Otres village. I was the oldest customer by far, but the young bartender was very friendly and courteous. If you’re looking for a more relaxed atmosphere, you may find it in Otres village. I’ve never been there at night, but I suspect it’s nice after dark, too.

Coffee Houses in Sihanoukville Go Upmarket

twin lotus sihanoukville coffee house outside

Even the World Bank has figured out that Cambodia’s economy has been growing. They’ve elevated its economic status to “lower middle income.” Since the economy has been growing by 6 to 7 percent per year since before I came here almost 10 years ago, it kind of makes sense. Yes, there’s still a lot of poverty here, but there is also a growing middle class. You can see it in the traffic and you can see it in the coffee houses in Sihanoukville, which are going upmarket, but thankfully aren’t adding more to the cost of a cup of coffee.

twin lotus coffee house in Sihanoukville

Grand opening of Twin Lotus. There’s a small playground downstairs and an upstairs area, too.

I’ll start with the latest addition, Twin Lotus, a Cambodian owned restaurant. It’s beautifully decorated and they’ve done something with the acoustics. Unlike most noisy places, you don’t have to raise your voice to have a conversation. Well placed acoustic panels must be the answer. The clientele here is mostly Cambodian. I had a coffee with a friend here once and the richest man in Sihanoukville sat down with us. He was a nice guy, too. Some people get snobbish when they have money, but he was quite modest and seemed to really care about lifting Sihanoukville’s image.

twin lotus sihanoukville coffee house and restaurant

Inside Twin Lotus. There is also an upstairs balcony area

Next on the list is Cafe del Mar. They’ve been around for a while now, but they had out of the way locations. One did well because of their steady clientele, but they’ve moved to Ekareach Street and seem to be busy all the time now. They’re right next door to EIS (Excellence in Service), the best English school in Sihanoukville (if not Cambodia). That might help explain why their clientele consists largely of Cambodians. My guess is that they stop in for a coffee after they drop their kids off at school.

Del Mar Sihanoukville Coffee House

Not a very good photo. Del Mar is very nice inside and the patio is not as dark as it appears here.

Douceur du Cambodge or Artisan Café has been here for a long time. They serve great coffee and great pastries. They always kept their old location clean, but it was an old building, so it never looked very upmarket. They’ve moved to Ekareach Street and their new place is large and modern looking. Fortunately, they haven’t raised their prices. I go there almost every day because:

Artisan sihanoukville coffee house

Artisan Café has moved to bigger location on Ekareach Street

  1. They are so friendly
  2. Their cappuccinos are hot and not as milky as others
  3. Their pastries are world class

These are just three Sihanoukville coffee houses on Ekareach Street. There are many more. I’ve already written about the Ocean Box Café. That’s another one that’s frequented by more Cambodians than Westerners. It seems to be popular with students.

Coffee houses of Sihanoukville Ocean Box

Then there’s Eno Café. They serve wonderful meals and have fresh bread, a few pastries and very good coffee. Like Artisan, they seem to have regular customers, but tourists looking for better quality coffee and/or food wander in as well.

Eno Sihanoukville coffee house

Eno Café

I pinched this photo from Eno’s Facebook page.

There are others, too. Many have a largely Cambodian clientele and some have mostly barang. I sometimes complain about Sihanoukville’s growth, but there are perks. I can get world class coffee and pastries in Sihanoukville and at the prices they charge, I can indulge every day. If I lived in Australia, it would be a once or twice a week treat, if that.

 

Pchum Ben in Sihanoukville 2016

I’ve written about Pchum Ben before. The first time was in 2011 and the second in 2012. There are probably other posts about it, too, but those two will give you some background about this two week long celebration. We usually go to wats (temples) far from Sihanoukville over Pchum Ben, but this year we stayed close to home. Last week we went to Wat Otres.

Pchum Ben Wat Otres Sihanoukville 2016This week, we went to Wat Leu. It’s been so long since I’ve been up there, it seemed like an adventure. Wat Leu isn’t the best maintained wat I’ve been to, but it has wonderful views and is surrounded by trees. You don’t really feel like you’re in Sihanoukville when you’re up there.

Pchum Ben Wat Leu Sihanoukville 2016We had a great time, mostly hanging out in the shade after going to the temple. They sell cold drinks and treats outside the wat. The atmosphere is relaxed and casual. That’s something I like about religious holidays in Cambodia. You’re expected to dress modestly in long dresses or long pants, but no one puts on spiritual airs. They do pay their respects to their ancestors in the temple, but after that they go back to normal.

Pchum Ben 2016 at Wat Leu, Sihanoukville CambodiaWe stayed for an hour or two and then went down to Independence Beach for lunch. After lunch the kids went for a swim and I stayed on shore making sure they didn’t drift away. Cambodians in general don’t understand ocean currents. Fortunately, the current was going sideways today, but I still had to herd the kids back when they drifted too far. There was a rip and a deep spot I didn’t want them to get near. Not sure if I mentioned it here, but one day I went to the beach and just after I dove in for a swim I had to rescue a kid who was being pulled out to sea. 10 people drowned over that week. Lucky I was there or he would have been the eleventh. Easy enough for me. I just told him to put his arms around my shoulders and I walked him to shore.

Independence Beach, Sihanoukville Cambodia 2016That was our day. We were home by 2:30, so I went to my “magic Cambodian cafe” for a cappuccino and cookie after we got home.

While I’m here, I want to mention two wonderful restaurants on the Hill. It’s a shame they don’t get more customers, but nobody gets many customers on the Hill. Raphael’s and Irina Franca are right next to each other. Irina Franca is run by a very nice Russian woman who is a superb cook. Unfortunately, I’m about the only person who knows it. She still makes a special every night. Last time I went there it was spinach and ricotta gnocchi.  I don’t usually like gnocchi, but hers was excellent. Raphael’s has a new owner, an Italian man who makes great pizzas and pastas.

Restaurants on the Hill in Sihanoukville CambodiaI don’t suppose my little post is going to change things for either restaurant, but I wanted to give them a plug. They’re both very good and it’s a shame they don’t get more customers.

My favourite Sihanoukville restaurant

Pats2I eat out almost every night. A creature of habit, I rarely try new restaurants, but have about half a dozen I go to regularly. Lately I’ve been going to Pat’s Place on the Hill about three times a week. It’s not the fanciest restaurant I could go to, but it’s my favourite restaurant in Sihanoukville.

I don’t particularly like hanging out on the Hill, but Pat’s Place is different. It’s a family run business and they are so friendly, I don’t feel like I’m on the Hill. They’ve been in their current location directly opposite Mealy Chenda’s driveway for about three years. Before that, they were next door, but that was before the owner took a two year break when she was pregnant and nursing her daughter. One barang who has been coming here for 30 years told me her mother used to serve food under a tree, but I can’t verify it. Pat’s English is limited to what she needs to know to run her business. She didn’t understand me when I asked about the tree.

Why is Pat’s Place my favourite restaurant? In order of importance:

  1. They are so friendly
  2. The food is good
  3. The food is cheap
  4. They have a varied menu
  5. I don’t have to deal with as much traffic as I have to deal with when I go to Serendipity Road

I don’t feel like I’m going to a restaurant when I go to Pat’s Place. Weather permitting, they always set up a table for me outside when they see me coming. I like a glass of red wine with my dinner. If they’re out, they go buy a bottle for me. They make me feel like a welcome guest rather than just a customer.

Pats1

Okay, I go there because it’s cheap, too. Other restaurants are just as cheap and the food is just as good, but their friendliness draws me to Pat’s Place more than anything else. I occasionally go to a couple of other restaurants on the Hill, but only when I feel like something they don’t sell or if I want to vary the scenery.

How cheap are they? My two favourite meals are their spaghetti with vegetables and grilled fish with a side salad and potatoes (mashed, fried or chips). Both of them cost a whopping $2.00. A glass of red wine is just $1.50. It’s a small glass, so I often get two, so my meals rarely cost more than $5.00. The wine isn’t world class, but it’s as good as wines I’ve paid $3.00 for, so I can’t complain.

No, Pat’s isn’t the most stylish restaurant in Sihanoukville, but it’s clean and they know how to make meals that appeal to barang. The grilled fish is as good as any I’ve had anywhere and their salads have a mixture of greens and vegetables with a homemade dressing that’s delicious.

Is Ocean Box the best café in Sihanoukville?

Coffee houses of Sihanoukville Ocean Box

The Ocean Box Cafe may be the best café in Sihanoukville. It’s a little out of the way and a little expensive by Sihanoukville standards, but there’s something about it that makes it special and worth visiting.

OB1

It’s run by a young Cambodian and most of the patrons are young to youngish Cambodians. I went there with friends on Saturday. It was packed and as some patrons left, others poured in. Most of them were well-dressed in the latest young Cambodian fashions. They seemed to be part of Cambodia’s growing middle class: kids who can afford to indulge in iced coffees and cakes once in awhile.

OB2

So what makes it special? For one thing, it’s made from two shipping containers. One of them has a glass roof. They’re divided by a large central room. The floor is coloured cement and the decorations aren’t expensive, but they are creative. The front is nicely landscaped and there’s a delightful mural near the entrance.

OB3Inside, creativity trumps expense, too. Some of the walls are painted and there are pot plants spread around. It has a stimulating atmosphere and the food and beverages aren’t disappointing, either. I had a cappuccino and chocolate cheesecake. Both were delicious and the service was quick, efficient and friendly.

OB4

A foreign couple walked out just as we walked in, but other than that, we were the only foreigners in the café. We didn’t feel out of place, though. The staff spoke English and no one noticed us.

Sihanoukville has been getting me down lately. Most of the construction going on around town is rather bland. The Ocean Box Café is restoring my faith in the ability of some Cambodians to come up with something new, creative and exciting. The popularity of the café is testament to the fact that it’s something young Cambodians are looking for, too.

OB6I doubt I’ll be going there often. It’s a little out of the way for me, but I look forward to going to the Ocean Box for coffee and cake with friends now and then. More importantly, I’m glad to know it’s there. It seems to be a popular spot and maybe it will inspire other Cambodians to open funky but creative shops and cafés in the future.

Check out the Ocean Box Cafe on Facebook.

Dao has moved and other Sihanoukville news

dao of life sihanoukville cambodia

I’ve mentioned Dao of Life more than once. They’re Sinanoukville’s one and only vegan restaurant. I’m not a vegan, but I love their food and love the restaurant. Shazia and the crew go beyond giving good service: they make you feel at home.

Dao’s only drawback has been its location. It wasn’t close to any tourist areas and those who didn’t have their own transportation had to take a tuk tuk to get there. In spite of that, the restaurant survived when so many businesses here fail. I’m both pleased and a little sad to announce that Dao of Life has moved to a new location just opposite Monkey Republic on Serendipity Road.

dao of life sihanoukville cambodiaI’m pleased because they are getting more much deserved business. They don’t need my advertising. When I dropped in on Monday, they were closed. Shazia said it was because they were overwhelmed by all the business they’ve been getting and needed to regroup and come up with an “action plan.” I’m sad because the old Dao felt like a second home.

dao of life new lounge

Other Sihanoukville News

A recent article in the Phnom Penh Post, Little Support for Coastal Master Plan, was, as expected, a one-sided put down of Sihanoukville’s Master Plan. “The plan would include a crackdown on “illegal” beach-front buildings, affecting anything within 50 meters of the sea, but it would also aim to ensure that Cambodia’s bays and beaches are protected and environmentally friendly”, the second paragraph began.

They put ‘illegal’ in quotes as if it was a disputable point, but didn’t mention that aside from removing the little cafes that illegally pop up occasionally, they have also ordered the removal of an illegal “port” (as reported by the PP Post) being built at Otres Beach by the Royal Group, so they’re not just picking on poor people.

Later, the article states: “Some residents here, especially foreigners, have expressed concern that the government’s true intentions remain unclear, and that their businesses, which have helped to develop the coast’s growing tourism industry, appear at risk.” Both foreign and Cambodian business owners frequently ignore zoning regulations. For that matter, so do home owners. They take a chance that a road won’t be widened or installed. When it is, they act as if the government is impinging on their rights. Of course, money still talks, so abuses do occur, but it’s not as one-sided as some publications would like us to believe.

There were some valid points made in the article, but the fact is that Sihanoukville is growing at an unprecedented rate and like any emerging metropolis, there will be winners and losers. When gentrification occurs in any city, anywhere in the world, it’s usually the poor who lose out. I don’t like it, but that’s the way it is and I get tired of Cambodia always being singled out as an exception. At least we’re not being forced to bathe in and drink poisoned water like the residents of Flint Michigan.

Back in June 2015, I wrote a blog titled Real Estate in Sihanoukville. I included a couple of pictures of new apartment blocks being built around town. They’re springing up everywhere, but so are multi-million dollar complexes. We also have our first new car dealership in town. Things are changing fast. Whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on your point of view, but it’s a moot point. Better to watch the show than worry or complain.

An art exhibit in Sihanoukville?

Sihanoukville doesn’t exactly have a reputation as the cultural centre of Cambodia.  Siem Reap gets that distinction, in part because of its proximity to Angkor Wat. We do have a lot of locals and expats who are talented artists, though, and they finally got the chance to exhibit their work right here in Sihanoukville. The 1st (hopefully annual) Sihanoukville Visual Arts Expo is at Sandan Restaurant, just 50 metres or so down the road towards Sokha Beach from the Golden Lions.

art exhibit(1)

I didn’t attend the opening, but was told it was well-attended by an enthusiastic crowd. I did stop in a couple of days later and have to say I was impressed. All of the work was very good — some of it stunning. I was impressed with this painting in particular:

art exhibit(3)

I hate to single out just one, though. There were a number of very impressive paintings, photographs and sculptures.

Since I didn’t attend the opening, I guess I missed out on the opportunity to watch an artist at work. I assume this photo was taken on opening day. I didn’t take any of these photos because I stupidly forgot to take my camera. Many thanks to STA for giving me permission to pinch the photos from their Facebook page.

art exhibit(2)Now I’m kicking myself for not attending on opening day. There are so many interesting expats living here now, but I rarely get the opportunity to meet them because I’m holed up at home working and they are creatively and productively going about their business.

Which brings me to the point of this blog. Sihanoukville still suffers from a bad reputation, but that’s only because the worst elements are also the most visible. Aside from business owners, there are dozens of people living and working here who do amazing things. They just tend to stay to themselves. Hopefully, more events like the Visual Arts Expo will bring them out of the woodwork and show the side of Sihanoukville that doesn’t make the news or the popular backpacker blogs.

art exhibit(4)Speaking of events, Dao of Life has been active in putting on events. They have Rooftop movie nights, Rooftop Salsa nights and other special events on a regular basis. They also actively promote other events and workshops around town,  sell secondhand jewellery from India and have a clothing swap shop. To keep up with everything that’s happening there and around Sihanoukville, I suggest you follow Dao of Life on Facebook. Tao of Life is a little off the beaten track, but well worth visiting, if only for a delicious vegan meal and a chat with Shazi or one of the other super-friendly people who work and hang out there.  Hmmm – maybe I’ll go there for dinner tonight.

Coffee houses in Sihanoukville

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I can’t write about bars because I don’t go to them, but I’m almost an expert when it comes to coffee houses in Sihanoukville. I qualify that with an “almost” because new ones spring up all the time, but I tend to stick with the ones I know.

cafe in sihanoukville cambodia

When Douceur du Cambodge opened, it took up half the space it takes up now. Even though it has doubled in size, it’s harder than ever to find a seat during peak hours. I used to go for coffee and a light pastry at about 10:00 a.m. Now I either go before 8:00 or after noon because it gets too crowded and the staff can’t really cope with everyone. Why do I go there? Price has one thing to do with it. A cappuccino and well-made pastry sets me back $2.50. But mainly it’s because I like their cappuccinos. They’re strong and not too milky.

del marDouceur du Cambodge is on the busiest street in town. Almost directly behind it on a quieter street that parallels it is a tiny coffee house that sells the best pastries in town, if not the world. Okay, there may be better cakes in a few places, but Café del Mar’s desserts are world class. Café del Mar is run by a lovely Ukrainian couple. Definitely worth a visit, but I hope it doesn’t become too popular. I can always count on finding an outdoor table there, even when it’s full in the air-conditioned indoor area.

To get there turn left if you’re coming from downtown at the stoplight just past Orange Market. It’s opposite a big new building site about a block up the road.

Speaking of Orange Market, they have tables outside and serve decent cappuccinos. I sometimes go there in the afternoon. They also sell good ice cream, but I usually opt for fresh baked cookies from the market. The cappuccinos aren’t the best in town, but they’re good enough and it’s a good place to go for a caffeine fix in a hurry.

orange market sihanoukville cambodia

I rarely go to the Ochheuteal beach area during the week when I’m busy working, but sometimes when I feel like I need a longer break or have something to do down that way, I stop in at one of several coffee houses. I’ve written about Escape at the top of the hill before, but I’ve been venturing further down the street more recently. To my surprise, Mokka turned out to be very good and has the most comfortable seats in town. They don’t serve snacks, though, so I only go there when all I want is a coffee at a leisurely pace.

mochaAnother great coffee house down that way in the Eno Cafe. They make excellent sandwiches with a variety of fresh breads and serve some delicious pastries, too. It has an upmarket feel to it and is a little pricey by Sihanoukville standards, but that’s still not expensive.

eno cafe sihanoukville cambodiaThis selection of coffee houses in Sihanoukville is really only the tip of the iceberg and I apologise in advance for probably leaving out some equally good ones. Hopefully I’ve made my point, though. If you need a coffee fix and/or delicious pastries in Sihanoukville, you can have them.

 

 

 

Victory Hill Gets a Facelift!

A good friend of mine lives on a hill above Victory Hill. I always enjoy visiting him, but never enjoyed dodging the potholes on Ekareach Street after the stoplights on the Hill. A couple of months ago, it was even worse because they were laying pipes on the side of the road. When I went up to see him a few days ago, everything had changed. The road is wide and smooth now.

Looking back towards the stoplight on Victory Hill

Looking back towards the stoplight on Victory Hill

Glancing to my left, I noticed that the road past the bars had been paved, too. I turned around for a closer look and was stunned. It was so much more appealing looking, I felt drawn to it, so I took a slow cruise down a road I used to avoid.

I usually only go to the Hill at the end of the month when I’m running low on money. There are some good restaurants there where you can get a decent meal and a beer for $2.50. Although it was looking shop-worn, I used to go to the Corner Bar sometimes, too, because no one went there and I could watch a movie on one of their big screen TVs. The Corner Bar closed awhile back. The new owners have given it a facelift and it looks bright and cheery now.

hill - pavedI decided to make that my dinner spot that night. I chose spaghetti carbonara. It wasn’t nearly as good as the home made spaghetti at Spaghetti House, but I’ve been told the French food is very good, so I’ll try that next time.

As I made my way back to the main road after dinner, I noticed another new place. Raphael’s Tavern advertises itself as a wine bar and restaurant, offering “authentic Italian cuisine.” I decided to try that the next night, but they were closed, so I went around the corner and ate at a Russian place, Olivier, next to the tall skinny hotel near the stoplight. I chose cabbage rolls and steamed vegetables. Both were excellent and so was the wine.

hill - painterI’m in serious danger of making the Hill my new hangout now. Yesterday afternoon I was supposed to meet a friend up that way, but he was running late, so I took another ride down the main drag looking for some place to pass the time. Instead of turning right on Restaurant Row (or whatever it’s called), I turned left. Amazingly, the area around a formerly derelict swimming pool had been renovated. The new owners re-tiled the pool and turned it the area around it into a kind of all-in-one café, restaurant, relaxation area. I just had a soft drink, but plan on returning for lunch or dinner soon. It was just so relaxing sitting there listening to the music and watching this guy painting a mural.

And here’s a bigger picture. The building going on in the background looks like it’s at the site of the old Papagayo, opposite the Corner Bar.

hill - pool cafeAfter having a couple of beers with my friend at his usual hang out, I headed back up the road and noticed Raphael’s Tavern was open. I wasn’t too hungry, so I just had a snack. It was as good as Papa Pippo’s on Otres Beach, but not as far away from home. Two nights later, I tried their home made spinach and cheese ravioli. It was just as good as the Spaghetti House’s. Different, but equally good.

hill - raphaels tavernI was the only customer when I got there, but that’s often the case because I eat earlier than most. I was happy to see it filling up not long before I finished my meal and even happier to see that Metal Heart across the street had been closed down. I stopped going to The Look (now gone) because of the music he played at high volume. With no competition, I was able to enjoy the much mellower music playing in the background at Raphael’s.

We’ll see what happens, but things are looking good for the Hill. It used to be the main backpacker’s area, but the backpackers shifted to Serendipity Road, Otres and the islands, leaving the Hill to the girlie bars. It was too bad, because being on a hill as it is, the area gives you a different environment. I always thought it had a lot of potential, but for awhile, it really went downHill. Well, from my point of view, anyway. One of the members of our writing group is writing about his observations of life after dark on the Hill and from his perspective, it sounds fascinating. Seedy, but fascinating and very funny unless you happen to be the one who is the target of a ladyboy’s wrath.

Personal prejudices aside, I reckon there’s room for everyone on the Hill. I’m hoping it continues to offer something for boring people like me and gives the night owls a place to roam as well.