Traveling through Southeast Asia, you will be hard pressed not to stumble upon some of the most relaxing guesthouses the world over. Set on rivers, on oceans, or even in the middle of nowhere, there is a certain calm about the land that seeps deep into your veins, soothing every last ion your body has to offer.
No establishment is more guilty of exuding this Zen-like aura than Bodhi Villa in Kampot, Cambodia. The guesthouse is infamous for ensnaring travelers in its web, curtailing their journeys and rendering them utterly defenseless against a complete lack of desire to move on. The most drastic case was a visitor who planned a week’s stay, and was still there not days, not weeks, but 11 months later.
Set on the bank of the humble Kampong Bei River, Bodhi Villa’s open layout has the feel of a large tree house. A small, square dock rests in front of the main building, dubbed the ‘Chill Room,’ and an elevated but narrow jumping platform resides several yards away.
Several styles of rooms are available – from private floating bungalows to single beds for just a dollar per night. Atop the main building is a room with 360 degree views and a queen size bed. Garden bungalows afford a bit more privacy, and are surrounded by trees, plants and flowers on all sides.
Throughout the day you will find both guests and staff – or as they call them, ‘chill consultants’ – swimming, playing games, shooting pool or just having a laugh. Give them a day’s notice and you can arrange to partake in a number of water sports, such as wakeboarding and tubing. When patrons do feel the desire to contact the outside world, wireless internet access is provided in the Chill Room.
The kitchen boasts a delicious array of western and Khmer foods, is delightfully expansive and 100% organic. A computer is stationed at the bar with a water and food proof keyboard, but don’t log in to your email. The computer at the bar is devoted to one cause – music.
The first time I met Hugh, the owner – a young, amiable Aussie – was as I was meandering through his 200,000+ song library.
“Is this all your music?” I asked
“Some of it,” he said. “I’ve got another terabyte in the back.” Another terabyte. In other words, they have what you’re looking for.
Patrons are encouraged to create their own playlists, or just select whatever tunes they like. Bob Marley and similarly laid back artists course through the house-wide speaker system most frequently, but when the right mix of people get together, the environment can get a bit more lively – particularly at night – though the main attraction is to slow down, cool your jets, and let life wash over you.
And if just having music isn’t enough, you can make your own. Guests can arrange to use a recently built recording studio on the premise, and Friday night is live music night. Bodhi truly has music covered – something not easily found in Southeast Asia.