Currently chilling out in Sihanoukville, which has been a lot of fun, but is beginning to burn a hole in both my liver and my wallet! Our last night in Phnom Penh we ended up being covered in talcum powder and wished a Happy Khmer New Year by the staff in the restaurant – for some reason we were the only westerners they felt the need to talc…Turns out I look pretty scary with a white face!
The next day due to some late night Cuba Libres in an Irish Pub chatting to a fascinating old American guy called Bob, we were all fast asleep for the whole of the four hour journey down to the coast. About 15 minutes after arriving we found ourselves in a $7 bungalow in a place called the Monkey Republic. Sihanoukville is a weird place, everything seems to be owned and largely run by westerners, there are bars, restaurants, beach loungers a go-go and the place is more full of backpackers than our bathroom is of ants. And still, it’s a nice place, the beach is cute and chatting to the kids there is very amusing even though we refused to buy anything from them (many reasons not too, namely trying to encourage them to go to school). They have Camembert, Monterrey Jack and Feta cheese in the restaurants which, after two months of Dairy Lea and plastic cheese, is heaven. The music is good, the rum is dark and the weather is hot, so really it’s a fun place to hang out. Thursday night proved rather messy although it started out so peacefully having post-sunset Cuba Libres in a little beach bar with Squid and chicken skewers for dinner. How it descended into a bar crawling, gin-fuelled, dance fest is beyond me – maybe the addition of two new friends, Tara (Camden) and James (Glasgow) tipped us over the edge. Well it was fun, but sweaty, and at least this time I didn’t break the beds! We all wisely decided to have the next day off and concentrated on eating food, drinking water and sitting in the TV room with the fans on full blats watching DVDs.
Today Rob, Mika and I hired bikes to head out to Ream National Park abut 20km from town. Mika and I have very cute, but speedy automatic scooters in hot and baby pink. Rob, being a boy, and being Rob, hired a 250cc Dirt Bike! Thankfully apart from a broken brake handle both he and the bike made it back in one piece – actually it was pretty cool although I didn’t quite feel confident enough to have a go as my feet couldn’t reach the ground from the seat! We drove out to Ream National Park and rode through the edges of the jungle along the coastline dotted with palms and small local wooden houses on stilts. The narrow strip of beach was deserted apart from ourselves, strewn with drift wood, shell fragments and tiny white crabs scuttling into the surf. There was a good few kilometres on really rough, bumpy track which Mika and I carefully navigated on our hers and hers scooters whilst Rob went flying along at full speed and grinning like he’d just found the true meaning of happiness! Bless! Well I am off to meet Rob, Mika, Tara and James in the bar for a few drinks and a quiet meal…and if you believe that, you’ll believe anything!