Packed to the rafters with sweaty tourists, smelly luggage and excessive numbers of the driver’s children, we set off for Sihanoukville. It was crampt, hot and painful, but having a window seat allowed me to escape this torture for a few hours and enjoy the rolling Cambodian countryside. After a few hours, we rolled up to a large, sprawling hotel, whose managment decided not to advertise the name of their establishment on the outside or the inside of the buliding. As such, I had no idea where in Sihanoukville I actually was. When i tried to walk into the hotel’s computer room, I was forcibly ejected by the staff for no apparent reason. Noone around seemed to speak English, and so could not direct me to the hotel I had been recommended by many travellers I had met (Mick and Craig’s). I dejectedly trundled out of the place, expecting a long, arduous trek getting lost for several hours, as was usual habit.
Turns out, it was just a few places next door. Feeling stupid and resolved to actually researching places in foreign countries before I visited them (which I would obviously never do), I checked in and crashed for a few hours. I wasn’t really looking forward to dinner time, because it would mean eating alone. Although I’d odne this quite a lot in the first part of my trip, this wasn’t something I liked doing now, having travelled around and ate with the same people for a long time. I went out forlornely looking for some hole to hide in, but within 20 meters of Mick ‘n’ Craigs, I heard a voice behind me call my name. I turned around to see two girls I had met on a tour bus in central Vietnam weeks earlier. We had got on well, unforunately though I hadn’t remembered there names. They forgave me to start with, refreshing my memory of their names (Anouk and Julie), but became increasingly annoyed as I continuously forgot their names again and again. I bought them both a drink and all was forgiven. We had a good time drinking and eating bad Asian bar food, and was ready to continue the night at the clubs down on the waterfront. Unfoarunetly, the two girls whose names I’ve forgotten again were due to get an early boat the next day to one of the sandy beached islands off the coast, so politely declined.
So I did something I didnt think I ever would, associating it with only sad and lonely old men, and went to a club on my own. Turns out, it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. On the walk down to the beach, a girl was handing out free drinks and flyers to the bar she was promoting. Our converastion pretty much went like this. Me: “You’re English arent you?”. Her: “Yes, I’m from near London”. “Me too, where abouts?” “Buckinghamshire.” “Me too, where abouts?” This went on a fair few rounds. Turns out she was from the village just next to mine (I wont say exactly where, don’t want stalkers), which was pretty exciting, and as a bonus, got me a few more free shots of booze. At the club itself, I found you could go up to pretty much anyone, and say quite pathetically “I’m on my own, can I talk to you?” As long as you aren’t dressed completely like a slaughterhouse worker and don’t smell like one, most people are happy to talk to you. I also found out that if given enough drink, I’ll happily do the Carlton dance from Fresh Prince of Belair (garnering much positive attention from the ladies, I might add).
The next day, I headed to the hotel’s restaurant for a restorative dose of bacon and eggs. Coincidence number two happened at this point, as two more travellers I had met previously – Jon and Stevie – walked through the door. They were going to be staying in the same hotel as me. Accustomed to being a third wheel at this point, I tagged along with them to a much more seculded and romantic beach than the one which housed most of the town’s bars and clubs. Called Otres beach, its miles of sandy beaches, and acres of warm clear ocean water seemed perfectly designed to relax. The same is also true of the dozens of wooden shacks selling “magic herb pizzas” and “joints” – whatever they were.
Coincidence number three happened, when I checked my emails finding one from my adopted friends (the Archies) who had also just got into town, after taking a different route down from mid-Vietnam, where I had seen them last. After the sun set on Otres, which was a very romantic time for me and Jon and Stevie, we tuktuked back to our hotel, to find the Archies playing pool. We all had a lovely meal of roast pork, which apparantly was voted in the top 10 of all roast dinners in the world (an acclaim I still somehow find hard to believe). Thankfully, all 4 of them were keen on heading out, so we all had a great night out. I tried to teach them the alluring powers of the Carlton dance, but they didn’t seem to get it.
The next day, Jon and Stevie had to leave for Phnom Penh, and the Archies were heading to some island. I would be going to my own island that night, so spent the day alone on the beach. This mainly involved fending off middle aged women who wanted to cut my toe nails or give me massages, and get outsmarted by 7 year old children trying to sell me useless tourist tat. At 9pm, I was taken by a motorbike driver with no sense of fear to the port where I was to take a boat to my next destination – Koh Sdach.