From the dry, agricultural interior we traveled south to Sihanoukville on Cambodia’s coast. An all-day bus ride took us first to Phnom Penh and than on to Sihanoukville, arriving at sunset. The road from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville was very good, an indication of how popular the resort town is with the city dwellers (and tourists).
Our first mission was to obtain new visas for Vietnam. Getting them in Sihanoukville was a pleasurable experience compared to all the other times: the staff were very polite and happy to serve us, plus we had our new visas in about five minutes – definitely a record time!
Sihanoukville’s famous for its beaches; so after visiting the Vietnam Consulate we headed for the nearest one: Independence Beach. It was an almost totally deserted stretch of beautiful white sand. Behind the beach was fenced off for a new resort, but no construction was happening as yet. We stayed on the beach a few hours, swimming in the warm waters and lounging on the hot sand by which time we realized we were turning pink. That tropical sun is intense!
That evening we went for a walk along the beach near our guesthouse. We passed the many bars, restaurants and bungalows fronting the beach, but they stopped about halfway along the beach and the crowds of tourists thinned until the only people we met were Cambodians enjoying picnic dinners and swimming at the quiet end of the beach. We walked back as the sun set and the people continued swimming, boating and fishing.
Yes, that’s a standard sign at Cambodian hotels and bars: no guns, no explosives and no knives!
All three evenings we were in Sihanoukville we ate at the Moon Shack ll Grill. Noticing the crowds as we passed by the first night we’d gone in for Happy Hour and stayed for grilled tuna. It was so good we’d returned the following two nights for more tuna and barracuda.
One of our days in Sihanoukville we took a boat tour to Bamboo Island which included a couple of stops for snorkeling. Although the weather and swimming were both fine the trip had a few small disasters: I managed to really stub the same two toes twice, plus caught a few sea urchin spines in the same spot. All of which led to severe bruising and a fear I may have actually fractured a toe. The snorkeling was so-so as the coral looked dead and there weren’t a lot of fish. And then on Bamboo Island I lost my underwater camera. The ride back was quite rough too, with the following wind blowing the boat’s stinky exhaust our way. Sometimes even a sunny day in paradise can be a little rough 😮
Deciding we’d had enough of the busy resort town and we caught a morning bus to the very laid-back river town, Kampot.