A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about serendipity beach

Sihanoukville!

affectionately known as shnooks...

sunny 30 °C

So for this week’s blog, unfortunately I’m not going to sound like an altruistic volunteer, but rather more like your image of the typical backpacker that comes to South-East Asia (try not to cringe!) This week we only had school on Monday, due to the Water Festival holiday. Actually, the Water Festival was cancelled nation-wide this year, as due to the floods a) everyone is a bit over water, and b) the government decided that the money normally spent on the Water Festival, could be better spent on things such as rice. Plus, I think after the goings on at that bridge in Phnom Penh at last years Festival is still a bit raw in everyone’s minds, and there’s only so much such a small country can handle. However, that’s no reason not to have a holiday! So this year’s Water Festival holiday was just sans Water Festival.

Amelia, Courtnay and I, who are all conveniently working at the same school so we all have the same holidays (some other schools were still open Tuesday and Wednesday as they are trying to catch up after being closed for so long during the floods), decided to make the most of this super-long weekend, by going to Sihanoukville, a town down on the coast. We’d heard mixed reviews so were not sure what to expect – oh my Buddha it was so much fun!

If you’re after a relaxing seaside holiday then it’s not really the place to be – it’s definitely not the most beautiful beach in the world, however the Khmer’s know no different and they love it! On the map of the beach it lists ‘bars for tourists’ and ‘bars for Khmers’, and literally as you walk down the beach you get to a point and there are no white people around. They love it though – down the Khmer end of the boat there are jet skis, banana boat rides, this massive jumping castle thing that you climb and then jump off into the water…it looked too good not to investigate, so I must admit we did wander down there amongst many stares, even though we decided to go swimming in our clothes as we thought that might be more PC. All of the kids there splash around in the shallows wearing life jackets, as I guess compulsory swimming lessons are not a part of the education system over here, and many of them were fascinated but us white beasts walking by! However from what I saw there compared to what I see at school, I’d say those who flock to the beach must be in a much higher income bracket by Cambodian standards.

There are different parts to the town, but the main drag where we stayed is Serendipity Beach. Pretty much it consists of a paved road at the top of the hill, lined with backpackers and shops, which then leads on to the aptly named ‘Dirt Road’ which leads down to the beach and the bars down there. Man we thought Siem Reap was a small town, but it’s got nothing on Sihanoukville! We were there four days and three nights, and by the end of our time there we pretty much knew every Westerner that worked in Serendipity Beach! It’s very easy to get a job at one of the bars there if you’re a backpacker – you just get free accommodation, food and drinks and work nights, which is pretty much just going out anyway so it looks like lots fun. Some of the people who work there are permanent and have been there for years; some are just backpackers passing through and work anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. It’s also a regular port for the Australian Navy and the US Marines, so they are always keen for a big night out when they’re off the boat, so kind of like at Koh Phangan, it’s all lazy days and big nights every in Sihanoukville!

The hostel we stayed at we ended up meeting a group of British guys who apparently we’d met in Siem Reap (it was a little awkward when we didn’t remember them but they got over it!) so one day we went with them and a couple of British girls who were staying at the next hostel down, to these waterfalls about 10ks out of town. We hired motos to get there, which is an experience in itself, in that the people that hire them to you pretty much don’t care if you don’t have an international license, they just warn you that if you get pulled over you’ll have to pay the police. Well, boy are the police in Sihanoukville sitting on a goldmine! The minute they see a white person on a bike they pull you over. Being a group of about 7 bikes we stuck out like a sore thumb, so I think we got pulled over about four times on the same stretch of road! Then you pretty much have to barter with them how much you’re going to pay them. They all start at $20, but the locals luckily told us that it should only be $2, so most of us could get them down to that, except Amelia, who felt bad and paid them $10! Luckily, after being pulled over once, they generally let you go the next time if you tell they you’ve already paid the fine. We called it getting ‘pulled’ and it’s definitely an art – when they let you go they all walk off and compare how much they got from each bike…they were all very disappointed that they didn’t all pull Amelia’s bike!

So we did eventually reach the waterfalls, although not without further incident, when the British girls skidded their bike and landed square in the mud. Luckily they were alright, so we could laugh at their hilarious orange facials, that didn’t even come off after standing under the pounding waterfalls! Unfortunately I couldn’t tell you the name of the waterfalls to save my life, but it was cool that it was kind of like a local Khmer hang out, and they hadn’t gone out of their way to set it up for tourists. You literally had to go rock climbing to get to where you could swim, during which I stacked it, and dropped one of my thongs down the waterfall. Luckily it wasn’t anything more valuable…and luckily those kids there are good at rock climbing, as one of them climbed down to the bottom of the waterfall and got it for me! I don’t like to support child labour, but I bought some cashews from her just for her efforts…

The next day the same crew, plus pretty much everyone staying at the two big hostels in Serendipity Beach, went on a booze cruise run by one of the bars down on the beach. Let me tell you, booze cruises in Sihanoukville put the one’s unis have back home to shame! I wouldn’t exactly say the boat was designed to host a booze cruise, but that made it all the more fun. The ‘bar’ downstairs was a little Khmer lady with an esky and a lifejacket and next to her was an ipod and a massive speaker and that was the dance floor. So we just went out to sea where the water was beautiful and clear and the beaches were empty, and then everyone took turns at jumping off the boat after a beer can, etc, etc. Luckily we were rowdy enough that there were no fish in that part of the sea! Then the boat sailed back at sunset, then just before the pier it put the anchor down and there was a massive dance party on the boat. The face paint had come out by this stage, so I don’t think the clothes I wore that day will ever be the same again! Amelia set herself the challenge of not showering and only swimming the whole time we were away, so pretty much, she was a ranger for four days!

So yes, pretty much, the rest of the time was just spent hanging out at the beach or in the bars…it’s pretty hard to get anywhere fast in Sihanoukville, as you always see someone you know!

Oh yes, how could I forget…Courtnay got a tattoo whilst we were in Sihanoukville! You are probably all thinking stupid idiot getting one in Asia (that’s what she got blasted from her mum anyway!) but she’d wanted it for a while and they make you inspect the needle before they use it to show you that it is new. It was actually a very interesting experience – but don’t worry Mum, I’m not tempted to get one! Apparently getting a tattoo is meant to be the second most painful experience after childbirth, and from looking at the photos, she very well could be having a baby! She got it on her foot, which from the yells and screams the people ten shops away could hear, it is actually very painful. Amelia and my hands were both purple from being squeezed so much. The tattoo guy thought it was hilarious, as did these two other guys we met who came with us for the entertainment, and pretty much every other shopkeeper on the street who stuck their head in to see what the commotion was all about. They play all this heavy metal, hard core music in tattoo places to make them even more super rad and fully sick, but we ended up just singing the songs we sing at school all the time, as apparently that helps with the pain. Our singing was so spectacular that the guy even turned off his super-cool tattoo music!

When it came to leaving, it was about half an hour before our bus was meant to come and we were all seriously deliberating whether we should get on it because Sihanoukville was so much fun! However Fran, the German girl who was volunteering with us at ABCs, is leaving this weekend, so we decided to be good friends and come back to our old haunt and see her before she leaves. When we got off the bus back in Siem Reap it was like 6am (because we got the sleeper bus) and there was this random tuk tuk driver standing there with a sign with our names on it…that was just too much for our state of delirium to handle – he couldn’t even tell us who sent him! Everyone already seems to know us here, it’s a worry…

Anyway, back to school tomorrow, for what may actually be a full five days of school in a row with no holidays!

Posted by ljmac2 02:19 Archived in Cambodia Tagged waterfalls people parties boats beach cambodia bars sihanoukville motos booze_cruise serendipity_beach Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 1 of 1) Page [1]