I guess the best place to start is with the mini bus drivers. They are maniacs. Wait, no, the mini bus drivers from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh are maniacs. The mini bus drivers from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville are pussy cats in comparison. Firstly the driver decided that his horn was the best offensive weapon he had against the war on other motor vehicles/people/animals and the general environmental atmosphere. Then he decided that his side of the road wasn't good enough and he clearly preferred to drive on the left. Ronny said he was trying to make me feel at home. I didn't feel at home, in fact I felt terrified. He then decided that all this wasn't fun enough and so played a twisted game of chicken with the upcoming traffic. Even when there was torrential rain he didn't stop. I think he liked the thrill of it all, I think my nerves still haven't recovered. it wasn't any different on the way home, only the driver had changed. The Cambodians have a saying: "same, same but different" I think it applies to situations like these. So after a hellish journey there I finally stumble out of the mini bus, shaken but not deterred from my journey and find the way to our hostel which is clean, tidy and has no window...Strangest thing in the world, it felt like we were sleeping in a prison cell and don't worry I have a picture of our lovely room:
So after a night there we moved onto another mini bus and another driver, who, as I explained above was a lot calmer. We arrived at Sihanoukville a little grumpy but safe and found our guest house, which turned out to be a lovely, quiet, clean and very accommodating place to stay. If you are ever in Sihanoukville I recommend you stay at Panda Guest house, it's only like 5 mins to the beach, the owner is lovely and really helpful. Ronny and I switched rooms from a fan room to one with a/c because it was so hot in the room and I know I wouldn't be able to sleep. So we paid a little bit extra and had the lovely luxury of a/c!
Right so the beach was beautiful, it is such a lovely place to stay and it was so relaxing, minus a few hiccups with certain people who shall not be named...But overall I had such a good time. One day Ronny and I got talking to a few of the locals and they then invited us back to the bar they worked for in the evening for a few drinks, so naturally I was up for it and I'm glad we went it was such a lovely experience to hang with some locals and chat away and he even tried to teach us a few more Khmer words which I have totally forgotten! We also met a lovely couple from England that are now living in Chang Mai who said we can come stay once we get to Thailand (I know I keep saying "we" and don't worry I haven't gone mad or anything, I am merely referring to myself and Ronny, cos we're like travelling around together - you get me?) To top the night off there were fire dancers - at least that's what I think you call them and they were so talented! Here, take a look:
They were doing really well until one of them dropped it. Shit happens though, they picked it up and continued!
So we then (Ronny and I) went the next day to see the waterfall which was absolutely breathtaking. It was only a small one but I've never seen a waterfall before and I was really impressed. All the volunteers will be going to see a bigger one at the end of the month so I will take lots of pictures of that and post them here.
So to some up an already long blog (and if you are still reading dear friends, I have the feeling it will get a little longer...) if you ever go to Sihanoukville here are a few places you should visit:
Panda Guesthouse - for good, cheap accomadation.
Navann Restaurant - for really good, cheap food and a really lovely, welcoming family. We ate there everyday and one morning the owner gave us free hats from a business he tried to start but that failed and so had loads of hats left over which he gave us! He and his family are so lovely. One night he told Ronny and I about what happened to his family during the Khmer Rouge (without us prompting him) and it was so moving. I really didn't know what to say to him or how to react. It's such a hard thing to live through and to hear it first hand from someone who had been there was really moving. I have been wondering ever since I read "First they killed my father" how many Cambodians I come across have been directly affected by what happened and I'm guessing it's over 90% of them. Maybe higher and how do you deal with something like that? They are such a strong, encouraging nation, always smiling, always friendly and willing to help, you wouldn't notice the scars that linger underneath it all.
Anyway I've gone off topic, you should also visit these beaches:
- Serendipity - it's not as dirty as people say it is and yeah you get hassled a lot by the locals trying to make you look pretty through manicures/pedicures/threading/massages/bracelets....the list could go on. But if you're friendly and say no thank you most of them don't bother you.
- Otres beach - it is beautiful, less crowded and the sea is gorgeous.
- Sokha beach - it's privately owned and if you don't pay 5-10 dollars you don't have anywhere to sit, so we just skimped past that one with our tuk tuk driver who was an amazing guide for the day. I told him he should do his own tours!
- Bamboo island - it is perfect. Quiet, beautiful and you can stay in one of the bungalows on the beach for the night, which, if I had the money I would totally do.
So I had a good holiday. It gave me an even bigger travelling bug though and now I can't wait to start my travelling. I also had a lot of time to reflect and I came to the decision to not linger on the past and look forward. I've made a lot of mistakes in the past but you know, making mistakes is how we're supposed to learn right? So I should stop beating myself up about what happened and focus on using those experiences to make me a better, stronger, wiser person. I think that's a good outcome from a week on the beach! I should go there more often, I may have even more epiphanies!
But for now I will bid you goodbye. It's time for me to leave the cafe I have been sitting in for the past 3 hours and go home. Until next time.
Big Ocean crossing love ya'll.