Thursday, 13 March 2014

Sihanoukville. Sun of a beach!

Each day we would take the most interesting walk to the beach. It was through a Khmer neighbourhood. We both really enjoyed our daily passage through local life. People preparing food. Washing clothes. Children playing. Even some small businesses were located here. I would say this was a Cambodian middle class area. With a construction site. Open drains & wooden 'bridges'. Everyone was friendly and all the children would say hello as you dodged the dogs, cats & chickens.

Sihanoukville is named after former king Norodom Sihanouk. Sihanoukville is also the location of the main production plant for Cambodia's national beer, Angkor Beer. Interesting fact: Sihanoukville was the place of the last official battle of the United States army in the Vietnam war, although the incident took place outside Vietnam. The Mayaguez incident of 12–15 May 1975 involved US forces and the Khmer Rouge.

Sihanoukville has a few areas to choose from. What we wanted was somewhere quiet. No crazy beach parties or hawkers. Serendipity Beach sounded too much like the latter. We selected Victory Beach. And I went for the cheapest accommodation I could find. The reviews were pretty mixed but the bad ones were pretty bad. It was a hostel on Victory Hill Called Big Johns BBQ. We had the private room which was huge and clean. It could have slept a family of five. The rooftop bar was good too with multiple happy hours. The food was excellent. I really liked the Cambodian chef. Her tofu noodles rocked. John (Big John) is a fountain of knowledge. Simple questions were never met with simple answers. But we liked his style. The view from the rooftop was pretty cool. One of the reviews I read for Big Johns before I booked the place said the view from the rooftop was crap. That person must have been looking the wrong way! Originally only booking one night and staying five.

The best thing about Victory beach is the serenity. It's almost deserted. After the cool walk through the neighbourhood it is just a short walk along the beach & under a pier where we found a very small restaurant & free sunbeds. The restaurant offered 2 for 1 beers between 2-6. Which meant that two beers cost 1 buck. That's what I am talking about! We were not bothered by hawkers once, in the whole time that we spent on Victory Beach. In fact it was me, each day, who would go in search of the beach fruit lady. She was probably the nicest fruit lady I have ever met. Free smiles and bananas? Cambo bananas rule, almost tangy.

Just to the right of Big John's there are three streets full of shops restaurants & bars. We didn't venture there much but one thing does come to mind which is worth a mention. One night in a rock bar we got chatting to a Liverpudlian called Joe. Who, with his business partner (I cant remember his name so lets just call him Terry) had a bar here in Sihanoukville. Terry had fallen & broken his ankle badly. He flew back to the UK with a layover in Amsterdam. One week has passed & no one knows where Terry is! He never made it to Liverpool. By all accounts he is most likely in an Amsterdam hospital. Joe was upset & worried about his best mate & business partner. Now, if Joe was that worried why wasnt he on the first flight to Amsterdam & checking every hospital. Not sat listening to Maiden and drinking vodka & OJ?

In one of these streets we found one of those special shops that seem to sell a little bit of everything. Amongst the multiple flavoured condoms I found huge tins of baked beans & cider!!

We fancied one crazy night out in Serendipity beach & it is only a $3 tuk tuk drive away. Wasn't that crazy but still fun. The following day consisted of every meal eaten in bed, which is pretty much one of my favourite things to do in the whole world. Time to leave Sihanoukville for a place that on the face of it sounds about as appealing as a rice cake. Koh Rong. Its an Island. No electricity. Hardly any water. No WIFI. It appears though to be a place that could be considered almost an untouched paradise, yet to be ruined by large scale resorts & package holiday makers.

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