Sunday, July 11, 2010

Roughing it in Snooky...

Having finally escaped the grey and grim Phnom Penh, we arrived in Sihanoukville (known as Snooky locally) after a five hour bus journey. As happens with pretty much every place that we've been to so far on our travels, when getting off the bus at the station we were mobbed by a gang of tuk-tuk drivers all trying to pull us left right and center and trying to get us to stay in their mates hotel or guest house... Our usual way of dealing with this is to fight our way past them and once in the clear get a map out and try and figure out whether we could walk it, which we did again this time electing to walk the (what appeared to be on the map) 1.5km to our guest house.

About 40 minutes later we found ourselves still walking along a dusty road in the baking sun with our heavy backpacks, and we still hadn't any sign of any landmarks to suggest that we were getting close. We were soon passed by a friendly German dude on a motorbike who informed us that were still a long, long way away snooky sunset
snooky sunset
. After leaving us he very kindly flagged down a tuk tuk driver and sent him in our (now rather sweaty and unimpressed) direction. We got the tuk tuk and eventually got to Serendipity beach where we were going to stay, and after the driver tried to charge us twice the fare, Kat noticed that her phone had come out of her pocket somewhere along the way.

While Kat went of to an internet cafe to call vodafone, cancel her SIM card and email people at home to let them know that she was phoneless, I decided the best thing to keep up morale would be to go and have a beer and some food on the beach. Serendipity beach is an attractive stretch of sand lined with lots of cheap little bars selling beer at around 50c a glass and mojitos for around $1.50, but the one major drawback is the number of hawkers trying to sell you stuff. During my first meal on the beach I was approached by a boy who tried to sell me a pair of sunglasses despite the fact I was already wearing a pair, had to fend an elderly woman off with one of the bar menu's as she tried to cut my toenails, and had a bloke try and sell me bags of what appeared to be oregano that he was keeping in his pocket. I went on to inform him that our accommodation wasn't self catering and that as a result we wouldn't be doing any cooking while we were there.

We found a really nice little room in a place called Tranquility, owned by a lovely British family,

which was only about 20 meters from the beach snooky beach
snooky beach
. That evening we headed out along the beach and had a couple of drinks, and enjoyed a fantastic sunset while the local kids set fireworks of from the beach.

The next couple of days were pretty chilled out. We very quickly, and happily got back into the routine of life by the beach, lazing about eating and drinking and finding new places to watch the world cup. On the Monday after we arrived we headed off to a little Island called Koh Ru just of the Cambodian coast.

The island has beaches at its north and south ends, which are connected by a small dirt path through the jungle that covers the island. We were staying at the north end of the island which was spotlessly clean and practically deserted apart from a couple of beach huts and a bar/restaurant. The beach itself was amazing picture postcard stuff and we had it pretty much to ourselves. The downside, unfortunately, was that the bar was staffed by a load of western guys in their mid twenties, who just sat around playing the playstation at the bar and weren't particularly interested in serving customers or making you feel in the slightest bit welcome. The other problem (I know I'm moaning about staying on a beautiful beach...) was that our beach shack was full of holes, had a dodgy roof, smelt fairly awful and had no electricity except for a couple of hours in the evening koh ru beach - paradise!
koh ru beach - paradise!

The next day we woke after a really bad sleep to really heavy rain, making spending anytime on the beach unlikely so we opted to jump back on a boat and make our way back to good old Snooky for some home comforts!

After settling back into our old room in Tranquility we went out for a meal at a little restaurant called the Holy Cow which we'd initially thought would be a steak house given the name and the sign out front, but actually had some really good veggie options. After a huge meal, which included a vegan chocolate cake, we wandered down to a bar called the Wall (as in the Pink Floyd album) which someone had handed us a flyer for while we were on the beach. The Wall is a rock bar owed by a Cambodian guy called Dan who spent much of his life living in the USA, and the walls are covered with murals and pictures of rock deity such as Led Zeppelin, the Stones and the Beatles. We sat up chatting with Dan, a couple of the bar staff and one of the regulars chatting till about three am with obscure Led Zeppelin bootlegs playing in the background. All in all a really good night. The next day was spent in a similar fashion, and after watching the football returned to the Wall for a slightly earlier night than the one before.

The next day we packed our bags once again (we're getting seriously good at packing now) and jumped on the bus on our way back to Phnom Penh before heading up towards Kratie for our last few days in Cambodia before heading into Laos for the next leg of our journey. You'll next hear from Kat who'll let you know what we've got up to in the meantime, we hope that all is good back in the UK and that everyone's well and happy.

Take care

Ewan and Kat


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