Khmer New Year in Sinville

Khmer New Year in Sinville
Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Sihanoukville, Cambodia

We didn’t really know what to expect from Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s most popular beach resort, there are several beaches and we stayed firstly on Serendipity beach, one of the busiest, must mention that we arrived in the run up to New Year here so it was probably a bit more hectic than it would normally of been – it was pretty busy!

We picked somewhere to stay from a local guide as we both selected it (doesn’t happen often!) called Mohachai, our room although sweaty was a bargain $8 per night and 200m from the beach. After checking in we headed down to the beach, we grabbed some 50c beers and chilled out for a bit,
It had only been 2 days since i had shaved my legs but every two minutes I was being asked to thread my legs , i was getting a bit ****** off the hair wasn’t THAT bad? The problem is in all of Asia the women do not shave so its a fringing nightmare to get any razors. After 2 hours I gave in and agreed to get both legs done. $8 for both however she didn’t start till 4pm and we were still going at 8pm she gave up telling me she’d find me tomorrow to finish, at the time i thought they looked ok till the next day i saw all the cuts she had given me , i blame the 50 cent beer lol.
So at this point we were gonna go back to the room and freshen up but screw it we deceided no lets just carry on , we had already drunk around 7 beers each and started on the cocktails , margaritas for me and cuba libres for Ed. Don’t worry we also had a bit of grub. We were preparing to leave and I starting talking to a women called Amanda and the night seriously changed from there!!!]
She was with her boyfriend steve we had a couple more drinks and decided to more on the next bar as it was LOOKING GOOD . I played my first game of beer pong, me and steve against Ed and Amanda we won and i had the best fun ever as winner stays on , at first i have to say i was **** not getting anything in , but in the 2nd game i started to get it and become an asset whoo hoo, we won 4 games and got a free bucket and i screamed my head off and it was soooooooo much fun . After more bucket s we went to some more bars did some skinny dipping ( well Ed did ) I Always wear my bikini lol , drank and drank and ended up in a bar called Uopia while I was swimming in the the pool , disaster , Ed got pushed in with our passports in his pocket!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The passports seem to have dried ok, hopefully they’ll let us out of the country! We spent 3 nights at Mohachai and to be honest (probably due to hangovers that lasted over 24 hours – cheers Amanda and Steve!) we found Serendipity beach a bit too busy, people persistently asking if you want a massage, pedicure, manicure or sunglasses gets a bit grating as does bloody annoying expats working at local bars being over friendly and trying to get us into their places later on – it was like Benidorm or something, anyway we were glad to book a few days away at an island off the coast and were looking forward to some R and R – didn’t quite go to plan!

We booked and prepaid for 3 nights at a place called Freedom Island Bungalows on Koh Rong Samloem, a small resort on a really secluded island, it only has 4 bungalows and it promised to be a few days of bliss and it would have been if not for the psycho owner. Along with the only other gusts, an Australian lady and her 15 year old daughter, we sailed out on the 2 and half hour journey on the German owner Steffan’s big boat, it was a huge boat with 2 floors, bedrooms and plenty of outdoor space to relax in and we even managed a nap on the way there.

From arrival it rapidly went downhill, we’d chosen the resort as they had fans and decent shower and an outdoor fresh water pool, turns out none of these we actually working or available, we don’t mind cold water showers but we didn’t even have that just a big barrel of water and a scoop which would have been fine if we weren’t paying the price were – we’d decided go there as it promised a bit more than some of the other basic bungalows on the other side of the island and I (Ed) didn’t want to rough it. The Aussie lady wasn’t too pleased about the shower situation and let the owner know which would probably contribute to what happened later in the evening.

The much mentioned waterfall and pool was non existent due to the dry season which is understandable but it was one of the main selling points and it would have been nice to have had a heads up about it – it wouldn’t have mattered too much to us – what did make an effing difference though was that nobody mentioned that he was busy building another 6 bungalows on the stretch of beach nearest us which meant we couldn’t use it as it was strewn with rubble and rubbish, however not to far away was Saracen Bay which from a distance looked like a long stretch of beautiful white sand and turquoise sea, however (another however!) up close it isn’t as pretty as it looks, we had to scramble over rocks to get there and unfortunately it seemed to be a collection point for rubbish from the tide and we saw light bulbs, lighters and, most worryingly, syringes in the shallows on the way to the main beach.

Once at the beach the water was really nice, very clear and as warm as a bath but the sand was quite hard and kind of muddy and we got nibbled by sand fleas while we we sunbathing – turns our weather wise this would be our best day too.

Later that evening when the Aussie lady and her daughter went to dinner all hell broke loose – frm what we can gather she mentioned that her lunch wasn’t great and this set Steffan off on a terrifying rant that left both in tears and fearful for their safety, her daughter ran over to ask me to make sure he didn’t hit her Mum it was that bad, we heard him screaming at her that ” the food is ****, the shower is ****, what do you want?? go away! f**k off! no food for you!” it was awful, we didn’t know what to do, he basically banned them from having any food there’s nowhere else on that side of the island to eat.

After an hour or so an uneasy truce came about and they ordered food and sat well away from him, if we hadn’t already paid quite a bit of money we would have left the next day but we reckoned there’d be no chance of a refund. He left the next day at 7 am taking the girls with him after bellowing at them to get ready and pay their bill taking the big boat with him and not letting anyone know when he’d be back and how we’d be getting back to the mainland.

Note – This guy is a big man, about 6 foot and almost as wide with a pet rottweiler- he seems to have developed the place entirely to his personal preference including the menu which had lots of German dishes.

Once he’d left the staff visibly relaxed and got back into the Cambodian way of life of not doing too much as it’s too hot, it did leave us feeling a but abandoned though as the only guests, the staff though were always attentive and nice us although we did feel we were intruding on their pre new year hols.

The bungalow itself was nice with great views over the bay and a nice bed and a fan, which if you believe the hype, is meant to be on 24 hours, but in reality went off at 10pm along with the power, and a comfy bed. The island has an abundance of wild life and we saw a sea eagle catching his dinner, stick insects flying around our heads, bats and most startling of all, a herd of water buffalo who decided to visit our bungalow in the small hours and scar the sh*t out of us by sniffing around outside our door.

The bungalows could be a really nice place to stay with a little more consideration, there’s a source of freshwater which instead of being diverted into a pool could minimise the amount of bottled water brought to the island (and sold at an extortionate rate of 88c for a little bottle – no big bottles of course another point we found annoying), the beach could be cleaned every now and then and more could be made of the local trekking and wildlife, we were really jealous of people that would arrive at the restaurant in the morning from across the island as they had been brought over by a guide who had pointed things out along the way, as it is we can’t recommend that anyone stay at Freedom Island Bungalows in their present guise.

As a parting gift we weren’t told what time or how we’d be leaving the island until a tiny boat arrived to take us back – 2 and a half hours on a little boat with a noisy engine was not fun one funny thing though, we seemed to be heading for another island so I turned to look at the captain and he was fast asleep! Sums up Cambodia perfectly I think!

We’d arranged on a different beach, Otres, on our return. We’d booked in advance at a place called Mushroom Point as it was new year and everywhere was busy and it didn’t disappoint. We stayed in our own little “mushroom” which housed a cool round bed, we had a little garden area with hammocks and a nice separate bathroom, it was a bit pricey but everywhere is more expensive at this time of year.

Otres beach is much less developed than others although there are still hawkers and a couple of noisy jetskis, one thing we liked was that nobody cared if you laid on a sunbed and didn’t buy anything – a nice change. There are plenty of beach restaurants although they were all pretty quite after dark, we ate well though. Being Khmer new year we didn’t get the peace and quite we expected as there were a couple of places near Mushroom Point that seemed intent on outdoing each other volume wise, luckily our ear plugs came into their own on those nights! The plugs couldn’t keep out the sound of thunder though at 4am on one morning – it was the loudest thunder we’ve ever heard- it shook the bed and was accompanied by torrential rain – luckily our thatched roof held out.

Whilst at Otres we booked a 3 island boat trip for our first snorkelling of the trip, although not as clear as Thailand we saw lots of fish and lots of scary spiky sea urchins, one of which our captain cautiously caught and took home to eat! We had a BBQ meal of chicken with salad and fruit for desert on Bamboo Island where we both managed to stand on a some kind of needle like spike in the water before we trekked over to the other side of the beach was nicer and sea thankfully spine free.

Otres seemed to be popular with locals who would turn up at restaurants with huge hampers of food and drinks and not buy anything – something that wold not go down well in Britain!

We returned to Serendipity for a night before our flight from Phnom Penh to Bangkok staying at Mick and Craig’s for a bargain $9 for a nice double room.

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