05.06.2011 - 12.06.2011 33 °C
Sihanoukville is a little beach town on the Gulf of Thailand. It’s 180km from Phnom Penh which means it takes 7 hours on the bus, haha!
The atmosphere is super-relaxed; the only things to do are watch movies at one of the two cinemas, or lie on a sun chair on the beach and drink cocktails. During the evening Sihanoukville comes alive with countless nightclubs along the streets and beachfront; in fact the population seems to triple as soon as the sun sets, I think it’s because all the people that have slept off their hangovers all day wake up at dusk to do it all over again.
^^ The road down to the beach
The two cinemas in town are privately run by expats and show the latest pirated movies in air-conditioned comfort and with bar services . We watched The Hangover 2 & Limitless while we were here. We thought The Hangover 2 was appropriate since we too would be visiting Bangkok in the near future, although fingers crossed with fewer incidents!
As lying on the beach is the main activity that tourist undertake in Sihanoukville it is only fitting that this is the place with the most locals trying to earn a buck.
Ladies walk up and down the beach with baskets full of fresh seafood goodies; lobsters, prawns, and fresh fish are readily available. You just point to what you want and they will cook it up in front of you.
Kids also run around trying to sell intricately woven wrist bands. They will try and tell you that it’s to raise money to pay for school – although we found out that there is an NGO that offers free schooling – so don’t fall for their puppy eyes, as they should be at school not on the beach. They are also viciously good at tic-tac-toe. I fell into the trap of agreeing to buy a wrist band from a 10 year old boy if he could beat me at the game. He thrashed me 3 times in a row! So like many other westerners I spent the rest of my time in Sihanoukville wearing my tic-tac-toe wrist bands of shame, haha .
Massages and women’s beauty is also a money maker on the beach. In fact as soon as we would walk down onto the beach the ladies would approach Kirby and tell her that her legs were hairy and yuk, but they could fix that. Needless to say she got them cheaply waxed while sipping on a Mojito. Funnily enough though the next day as soon as we stepped down onto the beach she was told once again how hairy her legs were; although after actually looking at her freshly plucked legs they quickly moved on to some other potentially 'hairy' victims further down the beach.
^^ Lobster Lady
^^ Fresh coconut - yum!
^^ How to get a roller onto a truck? Push it up of course! So frightening! It partially slipped off at one point, luckily it didn't flip though!
Just like most beachside towns in the world Sihanoukville is also privy to a thriving drug market, with weed being the main naughty on offer. In fact the tuk tuk drivers here offer you drugs before rides. Restaurants and cafés also offer ‘Happy’ added to all meals & drinks for an extra $1. It’s a fairly open affair and lookout boys walk down the streets playing small drums if a lazy police patrol is coming through. It’s a fun game to look for wide-eyed, paranoid stoners when the drums walk past.
We found an awesome Italian Restaurant called Trattoria Barbarella with the best homemade gnocchi in the world! We had dinner there every night for 4 night’s straight – sooooo goood!
^^ Time to party!
^^ Fire twirlers put on a show on the beach
^^ The matriarch of the nightclub. She had the till and all money passed through her hands.
We spent a week here lounging on the beachfront during the day and partying it up in the evenings. Our sleeping pattern was destroyed and our livers pickled but we had heaps and fun and will miss the relaxing atmosphere of Sihanoukville. The worst part of the week was the 13 hour hung-over, stifling hot bus trip from Sihanoukville to Battambang – our next stop.