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Cambodian love is Song Saa sweethearts

It’s hard not to fall in love with Cambodia’s sweethearts.   Surrounded by an azure-coloured ocean, the  warm salty breeze caresses my face in a loving touch.  There is no time here, just the rising sun to  welcome the days beginning. The setting sun halos the days end on a  secluded paradise that whispers sweet nothings in your ear.  There is a  calming sense like laying into the arms of the one you love.

This is what love feels like. This is Song  Saa.  This is paradise.

A  pristine island hideaway in Cambodia’s untouched Koh Rong Archipelago, Song Saa  Private Island is Cambodia’s newest five star eco-resort.  Named by the local Khmer’s as ‘the  sweethearts’, this unspoiled  island paradise is a short 20 minute speedboat ride from Sihanoukville.

Stepping  onto the island is like stepping into a beautiful untouched world.  There is an air of unassuming simplicity. It is intimate and stylish, yet not  pretentious.  There is no need for shoes,  just the bare foot feeling of  soft sand between your toes.

Dressed in white tunics and baggy blue pants, barefoot and  carefree, the staff are as welcoming as the warmth of the sun on my skin.  I am handed a cool, refreshing drink and I cannot help but feel excited with the  anticipation to explore what the island has to offer.

Scattered throughout the main island are 27 environmentally  sensitive, luxury pool villas.  They are  rustic looking but functional.  Use of  recycled timbers, bamboo and driftwood on the villas give a sense of belonging  in the island’s natural surroundings.

Off  the golden beaches and perched over the turquoise waters are the over-water villas.  Venture further around the Island and you  find the ocean view villas, looking back over the water to the mainland.  Situated in the lush rainforest in the middle of the island are the jungle  villas, offering spectacular views down over the island and out to sea.

A  breezy over-water restaurant, the Vista Restaurant and Lounge offers dining with 360-degree  views of the ocean.  The natural timber continues its theme to the  restaurant and lounge.  After ordering a  cocktail from the bar I found myself laying back on a day bed that swings  freely from chains connected to the roof.   Gazing across the waters, I see scattered fishing boats full of local  anglers.  A feeling of relaxation engulfs  my body like a wave and before I can drift off into an afternoon doze, the most  delicious smells dance into my nostrils.

Amazed  by the beauty of this intimate place, I doubt my senses could indulge in  anything more.  I was mistaken.  Ordering lunch from the delicious menu was a  difficult task.  I wanted to try it  all.  The modern cuisine uses locally  sourced ingredients from Cambodia and Vietnam, including a range of exotic  fruits, vegetables, fish and seafood, duck and pork.

After  lunch I linger a little longer around the bar sampling a concoction of  tantalising tropical cocktails.  Content  with my selections, and feeling rather lazy, I felt a need to do something more  physical and set off down the boardwalk from the Vista Restaurant and Lounge to  the main island to the discovery  centre and activities desk.

Conservation  and community are just as much a part of the island as the very sand that makes  it.  A team including two marine  biologists and a naturalist live on the island and have helped establish a  100-hectare marine park around the islands to rehabilitate damaged corals.

The owner’s minimal footprint philosophy carries across to the  second island of these sweethearts with a footbridge over the marine park  connecting the two small islands.  On  this island you can explore along rugged paths that intertwine  through the jungle terrain, discovering secret secluded beach spots perfect for  a cooling swim.

Song Saa PoolThe nearby islands offer guests an abundance of exploration opportunities and are easily  accessible from Song Saa Island.   Community welfare experts have set up Sala Song Saa, a community centre  in the village of nearby Prek Svay.  Here  locals can learn about conservation and Song Saa guests can learn about the  local culture.

With  the afternoon sun beckoning me to bask in its delight, I decide to bypass the  sailing boats and kayaks on offer and grab some snorkelling gear.  With the marine park close off the shore, exploring the amazing underwater world proves just as calm and relaxing as  the island it surrounds.

Refreshed and revelling in my newfound love, I find my way to the  driftwood bar.  The day comes to an end,  the yellow-orange-red-and­ violet hues of sunset is intense yet offers a  calming warmth.  Like a great big  romantic fire in the sky, the sun dips behind the horizon as if an orchestral  symphony was quieting down.  The sun’s  rays wave goodbye like an old  friend, but you know you will see them again.