Waiting for the Mekong Express in Phnom Penh
We went to the bus station to get on another Mekong Express bus to take us to Sihanoukville
. I occupied myself during this bus ride by writing postcards. I figured that if I wanted them to get to California before I got there, I had to mail them early in my trip. This was a short but interesting bus ride. We had a few unexpected stops. We stopped once because our bus hit a cow. The driver thought excessive honking would make the cow get out of the way. It didn't. He didn't slow down fast enough and- boom, we hit the cow. We weren't going too fast and the cow walked away relatively unscathed.
We had another stop in small town and I wondered what was holding us up.
I think I took this picture to show how pajamas are common daywear in Cambodia
Someone pointed to the left, there was a shoe factory and hundreds of young women were leaving the factory and crossing the street to go on their lunch breaks. They all had their long hair tied back in ponytails and they were wearing blue, green or orange polo shirts which I assume were color coordinated for different parts of the factory.
Another stop was to leave an offering of bananas at a local temple before we could continue on with the drive. Somewhere along the way, I jammed my finger badly in the door when using the bathroom on the bus. It was throbbing. I asked the hostess if they had ice and they had none. Our leader insisted on me putting Tiger Balm
on it so I did it to humor her. I always think it's funny when people use one product as a cure for everything.
Factory workers on their lunch break
To my surprise it worked and my finger no longer hurt.
Along the way, the sky was getting more and more overcast and it started to sprinkle. We arrived in Sihanoukville in the early afternoon and after settling into our hotel, it started to pour. There was a restaurant at our hotel which was open air but covered so we decided to go there for lunch. It was funny that after days of sunshine, it was pouring when we got to the beach. While we were eating, the rain and wind got heavier and heavier. Obviously the staff at the restaurant was used to sudden heavy rain. Each time we started getting soaked, they would run and pull down another tarp and give us a pleasant smile. Soon almost every tarp was pulled down and it was really dark and enclosed.
Thankfully the rain eventually subsided and stopped so we decided to go the main market.
What it looked like when we got to Sihanoukville
There was nothing too interesting there so we headed back to the hotel. The Kids, my roommate and I went down to Ochheuteal Beach, the beach that was just a few minute walk from our hotel. It was a dirty beach, lined with bars and guesthouses that look like they have seen better days. It was obviously still a popular beach and it was crowded with both locals and foreigners. We walked down a little bit until my roommate and one of The Kids got tired. Dean and I continued walking hoping to come across a nice clean stretch of beach, but it was more of the same. Sihanoukville is clearly a place in transition and we caught glimpses of golf courses in the making. I'm sure eventually it will be cleaned up and covered in beach resorts so go there now while it's still dodgy and has it's own character ;)
When we rejoined the other two, they were hanging out on some beat up papasan chairs at a bar.
Later on at the beach when it started to clear up
Of course the moment you stop, twice as many vendors will approach you selling seafood, snacks, jewelry, etc. There was one kid who wasn't selling anything but he was collecting plastic bottles for recycling. He looked like he was maybe 8 years old. He didn't beg us for anything or try to steal anything from us. He just stood there and stared at us and gave us a dirty look. Then he stuck his tongue out at us. He just hung around us for about five minutes sticking out his tongue and giving us menacing looks. Everyone thought he was a brat, I thought he was cute. Cambodians seem to have a wacky sense of humor and I like it.