Back to Phnom Phen and Sihanoukville
03.08.2008 - 08.08.2008 31 °C
Phew! What a trip! Kevin and I are now back in Los Angeles after an exciting 6 weeks in Southeast Asia and 1 week in Honolulu (Congratulations Justin on your graduation). Unfortunately, the last entry we posted was on August 2nd and therefore there are 10 days we did not share...or capture in words.
So, after Angkor Wat, we headed back to Phnom Phen for just a couple days. Both of us are really glad we did it. We arrived there in the afternoon, and this time, rather than staying near the river, we decided to stay in Central Phnom Phen near the big central market (perfect for shoppers of course). After resting from the relatively uneventful travel day (this is one of the few bus rides that was "easy")
Anyhow, we had dinner at the Foreign Correspondent's Club (recommendation from a friend) where we had an awesome meal and tasty drinks and then headed out to the Heart of Darkness. For those of you who have not been to Cambodia, I am sure you are wondering "What is the Heart of Darkness"? If you look it up in the Lonely Planet, it is described as this crazy place where all the rich Cambodian teenagers hang out. The book mentions that these "kids" have a tendency to start "trouble" with the Western tourists that try to hang out there. If we had only relied on Lonely Planet we might never have gone but Jeff had recommended we check it out and so we did. At 10pm, we grabbed a tuk tuk and headed out for our first "party" night.
Well, to cut a long predictable story short, the Heart of Darkness was not nearly so sinister. The scene can be described as follows: imagine a bunch of western tourists (our age and younger) mixed with some older, fatter male western tourists and a few conspicuous Cambodian prostitutes, all thrown to together on a dance floor with a lot of loud dance music. So, I am sure that all of my friends are thinking, ha, Michelle must have loved that, a loud crowded dance club. Well, I did. I had a great night and Kevin and I danced until about 2am...yes, that is incredibly late for me.
Second day in Phnom Penh started late and with a bit of frustration. We woke up, with the intention of going to the central market near our hotel. We figured we would grab breakfast first and then go shopping. Of course, there was not one place near our hotel or the market that served anything resembling a western breakfast (a.k.a.fried eggs and toast). So after about 45 minutes, we got in a tuk tuk and headed to the "Russian" central market and finished all of our purchases...many dvd's for $2 and few other items. (It really is not worth detailing all our money spending adventures here).
About 2pm that day we took a bus from Phnom Phen to the southern beaches of Cambodia (SihanoukVille). I think Kevin really provided the best description. Sihanoukville is basically a very small beach town (it is actually made up of four beaches, we stayed at Serendipity beach) that is a little less "developed" than Hoi An with a kind of Western influence. In many ways, it is easy to see how this small coastal down in Cambodia has the potential to become a larger vacation destination for back packers given the town's hip, laid-back energy, but the rich Europeans will always be more comfortable on the coast of Thailand. Let me see if I can paint you a better picture. I will start with our hotel and go from there.
The hotel was owned by an older, biker from Montana. He had lived in Thailand before deciding to open up this little boutique hotel. The hotel has about 20 rooms, a medium size swimming pool and has a restaurant that served some of the best mexican food in Southeast Asia (it might be the only place in Southeast Asia that served mexican food) and a good size cup of coffee with tasty breakfast menu options (apparently westerners like to have baked beans with their eggs and bacon, who knew?).
Next store was a very yummy Japanese teppanyaki type restuarant and a few doors the other way was a little "movie" theatre where you could watch some great DVD's in a room similar to a cozy living room, cold beer, couch and all.
While the town could be described as small and quaint, it has a very "vibrant" nightlife. The "bars" stay open until late (4am) and if you are looking for some late night munchies there is a guy that grills hot dogs at a small "convenience" store conveniently located next to our hotel. (I should note that the town is not only good for drinking but other "mind" blowing activities). We also found a monthly newsletter that describes is sort of like a mini guide book for Sihanoukville visitors. It includes: "Things to do during the rainy season", "How to bargain with your tuk-tuk driver" and "ways to prevent dehydration...more than just water".
While we spent most of our time lounging and relaxing, we had a few interesting adventures. The first day we took a "crazy" ride down to Otres beach. (Let me qualify crazy by saying that the road that we traveled to get to this particular beach was probably typical of most of the roads in Cambodia; rocky, full of land mine "holes", and, because it was the rainy season, incredibly muddy). Our plan was to walk along the beach and hang out for a bit, but 30 minutes in a rainstorm, that can best be described as a monsoon, came through the area. We found shelter and food at a place along the beach and waited out the storm. We might have hung out there longer but we and our food were being "attacked" by flies.
The next day we went and walked through the main town and had a "blind" massage. (All the masseuses were blind....and it was honestly one of the best massages I had). The remainder of our time was spent being lazy and watching the Olympic opening ceremony (very cool except for the fact that the commentary was in either Chinese or Thai so aside from the procession of athletes we had no idea what was happening). We were in Sihanoukville for about 3 days total, until August 9th and then we headed off to Bangkok...and like a Jamacian from track and field, I will hand the baton to Kevin to provide a happy ending to this part of our adventure.