Wednesday, August 4, 2004

I saw Elvis in Sihaoukville Cambodia!

by Saigon Charlie

Most will end up in Sihanoukville after the 4 hours bus journey down from Phnom Penh. The roads along this route are actually quite good and depending on when you leave (7AM or 12:30 PM), will determine to some degree what kind of accommodations are available.

Sihanoukville is quite busy throughout the year as it is also a destination site for many Cambodians and it is quite normal to see many locals enjoying the beauty and warmth of the seaside waters.

One of the most popular destinations for both foreigners and locals is Occheaceal Beach or more informally known as Serendipity Beach as the former name is a bit tough to pronounce for most.

The beach itself is a very long, gently curving bay that sets between the new 9-holke golf course being built and the gulf waters. As of April 2004, 4 of the planned 9 holes have been completed with many new and very comfortable guest houses and villas lining the road leading down its southern flank with the Jasmine Hotel being right near the beginning of the course. They are known for their friendly staff and and is a great place to stay according to some of the locals.

I think most head down the dirt road that sets on the north side of the beach first looking for accommodations as there are some pretty nice hangouts to drink, eat and relax around the numerous tables and shade.

As you head down this dirt road that many refer to as 'Serendipity', you first encounter several guest houses on the left, including Mohaohha (011-783-476 or 034-933-586) and Sea View Villa (034-935-555) which opened in February 2004. Wedged between these is the SKT Tour (Sokun Tour and Travel) company building (sothy2003mm@yahoo.com). A bit further down you will reach the beach and in this area you will find the 4-room beach bar called Uncle Bobs run by a very dynamic young Swede with a Cambodian girlfriend. If you are in need of 'comfort food', Uncle Bobs has a pretty good pizza. Next to this place is a newly renovated and upgraded place called the Eden Bar and Guest House also located directly on the beach.

Uncle Bobs Uncle Bobs Bar and Guest House

If you turn to your right and head further north along the beach, there are several more guest houses and lodges. Signs point you to the Ocean View and beside it, at the very end of where you can walk before the rocky point, Cloud 9.

If you turn left coming off the road, you will immediately see the Bungalow Bar and Restaurant as well as villa complex. The Diamond Guest House is also located here with bungalows on the cliff at $10-$12 a night and 'barracks' style accommodations starting at $8. There number is 016-948-929. Continuing on down the beach will lead you to the first of what literally had to be over a hundred small "beer bars" setting right along the beach.

The north end of Occheaceal/Serendipity Beach

In the evening this entire beach comes alive with the dancing glow of hundreds of candles placed on each bars many beach tables. Places like the Eden build small bonfires in large stone pits in front of their bars and have barbeques.

As you continue your long, curving stroll south along the beach, the shacks turn into longhouses and you start to notice signs indicating free beds. One such place as a PADI diving sign and is called the 'Dolphin Shack'. I am not exactly sure if you can stay in these places overnight anymore as there are some rumors that the police have disallowed it.

Charles and friends on the beachAnother place that is well known for its diving is Asia Divers run by Eric who is a really great guy. His number is 012-608-578. Roger is also working with Eric and his number is 012-439-301. This is also a PADI facility and they also run $15 all night party boats to the islands as well.

Where the shacks end you will find a wonderful little place called 'Teds' run by a Canadian/ American named (of course) TED and his very charming and lovely wife, Syna who is learning to sketch and color and from what I watched, quite talented.

Ted and one of the local neighbors who hangs out with him and his wife.

Ted is one heck of a nice guy who is originally from Montreal but grew up in Houston. In the evenings this place turns into quite the place for jams and laughter from the local expats. They will be opening a new Mexican restaurant soon and knowing the potency of Syna's margaritas, it should be a great time!

Trips to the local islands seem to round out the local day and evening's activities. Snake Island is known for its birds and monkeys while Koh Thas Island is famous for its fishing, birds and seaviews. Ta Kiev Island has snorkeling, coral and fishing and Russey Island has snorkeling and coconut trees. Ream Nah Para has a mountain view and a great beach.

Bokar Mountain is about 2 hours away and seems to be a stop for most staying more than a few days. It is about 10 kilometers out of Kampot and has a $5 entrance fee and for an additional $5, you can stay the night. Some of the local ex-pats take food and other items up to the Monks that live there which is greatly appreciated.

Other ex-pat haunts in town are Ru's Place, Savana and the Marlin Bar owned by Richard. Ru's Place has a big screen TV and show movies as well.

Now, if you follow the above trail, you will find Elvis in Sihanoukville! Good luck and have a great time!!!

Other ex-pat hangouts:

Chang's Sunset Bar
Next to Rose's Massage and Blue Mountain. English, Khmer , Vietnamese and Bullshit spoken. Call Gerry or Chang at 012-611-374

Dusk til Dawn Late Bar
Next to Angkor Arms. Call Chris at 012-439-259.

G'Day Mate Bar and Guesthouse
Center of Town. Rooms from $5. Has a pool table. Call Mick at 012-280-947.

Phantom Cafe
Happy hideaway music pub. Center of town, 1 block from the market and 1 block from bus station. Call Lann at 012-865-665 or Jersey Jack at 012-439-276.

The Small Hotel
Clean, nice furnished rooms with a/c and fan from $6. International menu with Swedish specialties. On a quiet street in the center of town behind Caltex and next to the Fisherman's Den. Call 012-716-385 or 012-794-637.
thesmallhotel@yahoo.com

Terrace Pub
2 pool tabless. Located above Seeing Hands Massage. Call 012-490-499.

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