31 October 2011

Backpacker Paradise [Sihanoukville, Cambodia]

Sihanoukville is a perfect beach destination. With white sand, crystal clear water and small islands dotted around the bay, you can't help but feel relaxed. Especially when the whole place (or at least the beach we visited) seems to be designed with backpackers in mind. Basically a great atmosphere, good music, cheap food and cheap beer.

We decided to only stay the one day, even though I could see myself staying for a week or more. But we had our relaxing days on the beach in Vietnam, and I am sure there will be plenty more to come in Thailand. Unfortunately time is tight, so we had to keep moving.

The first strange thing I noticed in Sihanoukville was the hotel rules. There were only five of them, and one was basically telling you that is it illegal to be a pedophile. It turns out that Cambodia, and this area especially, has a big problem with people basically selling their children for sex. One guy I spoke to told me that if you walk around by yourself (a guy) there is almost no doubt that you will be approached. I am really thankful that it did not happen to me!

Another interesting observation - it seems that everyone thinks they are a tattoo artist. There are massage and spa places offering tattoo! Souvenir shops and travel agents with 'tattoo' signs out front. I saw one place that had photos of celebrities with tattoos, displayed as though they had done the work. Pretty sure you should only be displaying the tattoo's you have actually done yourself... All I know is that I wouldn't go trusting the guy that books my bus ticket to give me a tattoo.

So all we really did in Sihanoukville was relax in comfy loungers, swim and drink really cheap beer (US$0.50). We watched a spectacular sunset while sipping from cheap buckets right on the beach, with the waves lapping up underneath our chairs. We actually saw some pretty crazy weather; looking out in one direction was a beautiful sunset, the other way there was a massive lightening storm! Pretty cool. Later we went to a place that had a 25c beer drink special! The cheapest beer in SE Asia to date.

A couple of other random bits and pieces;
- There are also a lot of children selling things; souviners, bracelets, FIREWORKS! But there are a lot of signs around telling you not to buy from them, so at least the government or someone is trying to do something about it, and get the children off the beach and into school.
- There are a LOT of beggars here, and many of them have lost limbs. I saw one guy with no hands which was really sad. But if you say no they respect that and don't hassle you, which is good.
- The people are extremely friendly, and their English is amazing.


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