Hippies unite! We arrived into Sihanoukville, hippie-beach town in Cambodia, after a long and sweaty bus ride. We were greeted at our hotel with news that we were all on the third floor, and there was no elevator! The sweating continued. After a quick change into more beach-friendly attire, we set off to explore. I can only liken Sihanoukville to one other place I’ve been, that being Byron Bay on the Gold Coast of Australia. Both have the same laid-back, ultra-lazy atmosphere, in wildly different socio-economic settings. Therefore, Sihanoukville is really a unique place. Bursting with souvenir, clothing, and massage joints, there was the welcome addition of hipster coffee shops, a few organic beauty product makers, and many hopping hostel/bar combinations. We stopped for lunch at Angkor Bar, right on the beach, serving up incredibly fresh BBQ seafood, Khmer dishes, and cheap cocktails.
Fueled with mojitos and fresh fish, we wandered along the waterfront, where countless women were balancing baskets of fresh fruit, gigantic grilled prawns, BBQ scallops, and cold drinks on their heads, shouting out prices at you from every direction. At one bar, they were setting up for what I assumed to be a wedding later on – gorgeous tables covered in flowers were everywhere.
The one downside about this town is you will DEFINITELY be hassled by food vendors, beachside pedicurists and masseuses, and children selling beaded bracelets and headbands. Best option is to look straight ahead and shake your head no without a second glance. We continued to the rocks at the far end of the beach to watch the sun set over the hills.
That evening, the tour group went together to yet another seafood joint (I’m not complaining), housed between a strip of pizza joints advertising “Happy Pizza & Milkshakes”. You can imagine what the happy part might be made of. We followed this up with drinks on the beach, listening to a combination of crashing waves and pop music from the strip of bars lining the waterfront. Later, we danced up a storm after countless free drinks (almost every bar gives the first drink free, and us being smart cookies simply had one drink at each bar before moving to the next).
The next morning, happy to have a lazy day in the hot sun, I started with a visit to Da café, a vegan café offering healthy fare and cold-pressed juices – I had a carrot, beet, turmeric, and lime juice, just the cold and healthy treat I was after. I did some shopping around town before boarding a Tuk-tuk to Orestis beach – a less touristy, much more secluded beach down the road, blissfully hassle-free and offering stellar views of turquoise seas. Alternate napping, swimming, and booking reading ensued for the remainder of the afternoon.
The next day, we were off to cross the border into Vietnam! More to come!