A Yoga Retreat was one thing on my bucket list for living in SE Asia so when the opportunity came up to go with my favorite local yoga spot Nataraj (aka my sanity here), I jumped on it. My good friend Cynthia Whitman and another amazing teacher Dwi Williamson were both teaching and it was a short enough trip to do in a weekend. The Kirirom mountains are about 1.5 hours if there were normal roads here but alas you always add about 1-2 hours extra to any transport time here. Kirirom is SE of PP and is nicknamed “Happy Mountain.” After a long drive up in a one seat short person van (another Asian reality of travel), we got there just in time for dusk. Immediately as we got out of the van, it seemed we were no longer in Cambodia, at least not in Phnom Penh. It was so incredibly quiet, peaceful and the air was actually COOL! I did a no-more-sweating-happy-mountain dance.
We unpacked and dinner was already set up for us in the main lodge. It was great to sit among awesome women from all over the world – Poland, France, Germany, South Korea, Indonesia and crazily enough one from Santa Barbara, CA. We stayed at the amazing Kirirom Mountain Lodge and were pleasantly surprised with how good the vegetarian cooking was by Moroccon chef and manager Rhelimi Bouchaib. This place was such a gem and the website really does not do it justice! I would say it hasn’t quite hit the Tripadvisor radar but is known by the expat community here. As much as I want it to stay quiet, this place also deserves all the yogis it can get.
After din din, it was a early night for all of us and we retreated into quiet time among nature and the stars.
The next morning, we got to see the place in all its glory and feel the WIND. I went full on Kate Winslet Titantic scene as I was so excited for fresh air and breeze. We were surrounded by pine trees, overlooking the rest of the forest which is pretty darn cool in Cambodia. Sidenote- Cambodia is the of the most treacherous countries (second or tied with Brazil) in the world for environmental activists. Our good friend Lindsay Freeman actually just awarded Leng Ouch the prestigious Goldman Environmental Award for his work trying to protect the forests here. But the reality of it is, many activists and environmentalists have been killed and there is little to no accountability for it. Recently, the Cambodian government actually banned all theaters from playing a documentary on the late Chut Wutty whom was murdered 4 years ago with no real investigation into his death.
On a lighter note though, we started the day off with meditation and a morning asana and it was glorious. I will admit I was a bit nervous about the 40 minute meditation, but you know what, it was great. Definitely recommend trying it out in a setting like this for your first time. They then served a light coffee/tea before a later breakfast. Again, food was awesome-sauce!
After breakfast, we had free time to use their bikes, take a hike, journal and do all thing netflix and chill minus the netflix.
The evening was another yoga practice and yogi family dinner. After a request for some sweets to end the meal, the chef even made us these Turkish doughnut heavenly balls. They came with honey and chopped up pistachios or chocolate drizzled on top. A bonfire was set up and it was the perfect campy
romantic introspective vibe to finish off day 2.
The last day we did meditation again and some more yoga. Afterwards, we hiked over to a little pagoda. Some others walked over to Kirirom Pine Resort which they said was nice but not as peaceful.
Overall, this weekend was the perfect getaway from the city during the hot season and HIGHLY recommended to all expats if you want to look like the cat above for a weekend. Kirirom was definitely my kinda happy mountain!
“Life is a series of tiny little miracles. Notice them.” – Mike Greenberg