Posted by Julia (written on 14/09/07, posted on 18/09/07)
Well, as we mentioned the plan was to head to the beach for 2.5 days of sun, sea and seafood with the primary aim of topping up our tans. We caught a bus from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville which was a very pleasant experience the bus was nice and cool, we got food and water for free, the music wasn’t too loud, the driver drove on the correct side of the road, we went faster than 40km/hr AND we arrived on time! Completely different to the Vietnamese buses.
The bus stopped off halfway at a special roadside shrine to pray to Buddha to ask for a safe journey and make an offering of bananas. Unfortunately the guy doing the praying forgot to ask for nice weather, consequently it rained for 2 days and our tans didn’t get topped up at all! No worries, we still had a lot of fun.
Sihanoukville is a pretty cool place to get some sun (if its not raining), there are restaurants/bars along the waterfront and it’s really cheap, as its not well developed (yet). The only problem with the beach is the presence of little kids that constantly hound you to buy their bracelets and paintings. No exaggeration, we arrived, put our packs down, ordered a drink and voila at least 12 kids magically appeared to give us the hard sell.
These kids have some pretty mean tactics ranging from – taking time to make friends with you to a constant whinge in your ear. THEN if you actually buy the stuff all the others start whinging at you “you bought from her why you not buy from me?” You walk away, they follow you. You say you don’t want it, they whinge. You ask how much, you find out its hideously expensive. Dealing with the kids was the most traumatic thing we have had to deal with (ok, maybe burning our bathroom in Hue was worse), it took us at least 2 hours to recover!
Having said that Megan did commission a painting from a very cute 11 year old boy (Ly), she asked him to paint a picture of them on the beach. The look on his face when she agreed to buy his specially ordered painting was so cute and he was stoked to have a project to work on!
When we arrived in Sihanoukville we were a tad stressed out by the kids and disheartened by the crappy weather so we decided to splash out and treat ourselves to a flash room. For $25 USD we got a lovely room by the pool side, with real sheets, hot water, aircon, TV, fridge, a lovely bathroom and a leather lounge suite/coffee table. It was such a treat.
To even out our budget on the second day we moved to “Monkey Republic Bungalows” and paid $5 for a cute bungalow, with a toilet that doesn’t have a flusher (you use a bucket, a steep learning curve for Megan) and a cold shower. We promptly went out to buy air-freshener and made a plan to have “a few” drinks on the beach before retiring to our bungalow to help with the sleeping process.
After a couple of beers, we discovered that you can buy jugs of Vodka, Red bull and Lemonade for $3 each. So we sat in comfy chairs on the beach, sipping from our jugs and had BBQ food for dinner. It was a very enjoyable evening as we worked out how to get rid of the kids (be stern with the first one, word goes out that you aren’t to be messed with and they don’t even try to sell you their stuff). As we were leaving we met a crazy British guy with his Thai wife who shouted us some wines which was nice (the guy was a hoot and I got to practice my Thai).
We are not sure if it was dinner, the beer, the jugs of vodka or the copious amounts of wine we drank…. but something seemed to have triggered a bout of food poisoning. I won’t give details, but lets just say it was an “interesting” journey back to the hostel, for some reason we couldn’t walk straight, the 5 min walk to the hostel took over an hour and required a tuk tuk, we needed a bucket on arrival and we both feeling a little off colour today. Don’t worry though, these bouts of “food poisoning” are usually over within 24 hours so we will be ok tomorrow.
Message to our concerned parents: Don’t worry we are looking after each other and we are making sure that we keep very safe at all times (even when we drink dodgy food).