A small taste of the Cambodian coast and food...

Sihanoukville Travel Blog

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Cambodian countryside
After the western party town of Siem Reap and the gloomy capital, we were looking for two things: a real taste of rural Cambodia and a beach where we could relax. Given the time restrictions, we chose to play it safe and follow the 3rd city on a tourist's itinerary to Cambodia: the costal town of Sihanoukville.

Built as the main port of Cambodia and once a resort for the Khmer aristocracy, the town suffered just like everything else during the years of the Khmer Rouge. In the past 10 years, the government has been trying to create a Cambodian alternative to the hectic seaside resorts of Thailand.

Four hours down the road from Phnom Penh and after witnessing some beautiful Cambodian countryside (combined with some not so beautiful weather) we reach Sihanoukville.
Victory beach
What we expected was a picturesque fishing town with some western conveniences and beautiful beaches. I am not sure what created those expectations, but the reality was quite different. Sihanoukville is a medium sized town, with a quite indifferent central market and 4-5 beaches that are littered with western bars, hotels and huge construction sites. In a short-viewed attempt to pocket some money, the government has sold most of the waterfront to western investors who, desparate for new opportunities due to crumbling western housing markets, have bought off most of the beaches and some of the islands. There are also major constructions going on along the beach and I feel that in a couple of years the place will be a mini version of Benidorm.  There are also rumours that a lot of fishermen and restaurant owners were kicked out of their homes or given significantly low compensations to make way for the rich investors.
our last sunset in sihanoukville


We were quite dissapointed to say the least, also because the beaches would not compare to the ones of Malaysia or Vietnam and most of the bars were empty. Given such dissapointment, the expected thing to do would be to move on quickly. However, we ended up extending our stay by 3 nights and had a really good time. We hired mopeds, which I discovered is the thing to do in any small-sized town. You are free to go wherever you want, you dont have to negotiate deals with moto drivers and it ends up being a lot cheaper.

We roamed the streets of Sihanoukville during the day, and chilled out at the bars at night. We met a couple of travellers who had decided to make Sihanoukville their home for a few months or years, which made us realised that it may not have much going for itself as a place but there are interesting people to meet there and it is quite a peaceful town to relax for a while.
local specialities, i.e. crickets


I was also surprised to discover a Greek restaurant across the street from our hotel that made delicious BBQ served with a portion of tzatziki. More importantly, the place had free table tennis and pool. Oh, and all the staff of course knew the full range of Greek swearing...

After 5 days we decided that it was time to move on. Leaving Sihanoukville I wished I had given the coast a real chance and ventured to one of the smaller towns to the west.

On our way to Vietnam, we took the ferry acrross the mighty Mekong and also witnessed some of the more acquired Cambodian delicacies. While waiting for the ferry, all the cars were surrounded by local sellers offering typical Cambodian snacks: crickets, grasshopers and what looked to me like deep fried cockroaches.

Anyone hungry?

 






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Cambodian countryside
Cambodian countryside
Victory beach
Victory beach
our last sunset in sihanoukville
our last sunset in sihanoukville
local specialities, i.e. crickets
local specialities, i.e. crickets
swimming in the Mekong
swimming in the Mekong
Crab crisps!
Crab crisps!
playing with the fire at Utopia ba…
playing with the fire at Utopia b…
the yocks
the yocks
afternoon pick nick
afternoon pick nick
a plate of tzatziki at the greek r…
a plate of tzatziki at the greek …