In honor of the halfway mark of our time in Cambodia, I planned a trip to the beach for all my friends and me. I found us a guesthouse by the beach and arranged the bus tickets. The bus ride was a trip, literally and figuratively, never thought a giant double decker tour bus could go so fast. We got to the beach, a little town called Sihanoukville, at around 11pm on Friday. My friends that work with children were able to go down early so when we met up with them they were already very tipsy. It was fun following them around and letting them show us all the good bars (aka one with free drinks for foreigners). Two of my friends even went so far as to order a Tequila Stuntman. What’s that you say? It’s a free tequila shot but instead of licking the salt and sucking on the lime, you have to snort the salt through your nose, drink the shot, and then squirt the lime in your open eye. And I swear to God that it took zero convincing on my part, as soon as their drunken ears heard “free,” they were in. It seemed that we were too late to catch up with them so I ended up spending the rest of the night with my feet in the sand staring out at a beautiful lightning storm raging somewhere in the Gulf of Thailand.
The next morning we decided to travel to a quiet less touristy beach for the day. Our tuk-tuk driver recommended Otres Beach which was a great suggestion. The sand and waters were warm and the waves were small. The only downer was that it started to rain as soon as we arrived. We ran to the nearest covered restaurant on the beach and had a long breakfast to wait out the rain. When the sun finally reappeared we went swimming and sat on beach chairs reading our books. Eventually some Cambodian women hawking bracelets and massages came to bother us. I bought a less than attractive bracelet and got a manicure for a buck. The worst decision of the trip, however, was when I let the lady convince me that getting my legs threaded was a good idea. “Lady, if it hurt you kick my ass!” was all it took for me to say, “eh, when in Cambodia!” It did end up hurting a little when she got to the sensitive skin on my legs but I didn’t have the heart to "kick her ass." I really did think it was going to work because they were plucking so many hairs, but in the end there was no way they could get all the little blonde ones so it was pretty much worthless. Makes a good story I suppose...
The next day we booked a snorkeling tour off the nearby islands and left our hotel at 8am. After breakfast by the beach we took a long and arduous ride on a Cambodian long boat to our first reef. I was expecting bright colors and giant schools of fish but it was a little cloudy that day and the water was far short of being clear so it ended up being a total wash. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and building sand temples on Bamboo Island. Our boat driver cooked us delicious grilled barracuda and French baguettes for lunch on the beach. Other than the terrible sunburn I acquired while trying to save the drawbridge of “Angkor Sand” from the incoming tide, it was a wonderful day.
Over the course of the weekend we enjoyed some delicious food due to the random collection of expats in Sihanoukville. In particular, the French man who served us the best Italian food I’ve had since leaving Florence (my interpretations of Chef Bruno’s recipes included), or the American from Portland who owned the funniest taco shop called Maybe Later complete with a Rambo wallpapered bathroom (don’t ask).
I'm working on unearthing more details about this trip. I planned it almost 4 years ago so some of the details are escaping me. Comment with anything you'd like to head more about!
Go confidently travelers!