Sihanoukville

After surviving the tuk-tuk ride from hell, I spent most of the next day on Otres beach.

Thomas and I walked an hour and fifteen minutes long the beach into Sihanoukville where we randomly ran into friends. (We knew they were there, but did not expect to just pass them in a restaurant eating breakfast.) We hung out while they finished eating, then caught another (less scary) tuk-tuk ride back to Otres and relaxed by the water, spending too much money on bracelets from the local kids and turning down offers from pedicure peddlers. I think every single one of us got sunburnt.

I took a ride back into town with everyone but Thomas, got some pre-dinner food and two bottles of wine (this was going to be the last big group dinner, and we were having it on the beach) and then we went out to eat.

The restaurant they chose also served alcohol and wouldn’t open the wine for us, so I was left to try to finish one on my own after dinner (I got about 1/5th of the way through) and I still have the second unopened bottle 4 or 5 days later. I caught a motorbike back to Otres when everyone decided to go out partying at the bar. When this driver also started telling me about the “gangsters” who liked to rob people on the stretch of road we were driving, I decided it was time to switch where I was staying. The beach itself was perfectly safe, even at night, but my heart couldn’t handle any more nighttime rides through Nowheresville to get back to the beach.

The next morning I moved to the hostel my friends were at and while they spent the day on a Booze Cruise I spent it reading, watching movies, and generally avoiding people. I had gotten hit with a bout of homesickness the night before and needed some alone time. Which corresponded nicely with a full day of rain.

The next day was much the same. I almost decided to leave without diving – which was my main reason for going to Sihanoukville (it would be my last chance to dive before coming home) – because my motivation was so lacking and I had heard visibility was terrible.

Luckily I got myself off my butt long enough to book a trip with The Dive Shop starting bright and early the next morning.

I arrived to find two other divers. Both, like me, had completed only the 4 dives required for their PADI open water certification, and one I had met on Otres beach a few days earlier.

The ocean was so rough our captain turned back after 15 minutes on the water in order to secure a larger boat. Even with the bigger boat I spent the 2.5 hours out to Koh Rong wondering when we would capsize and feeling sorry for the girl puking her guts out off the back.

Our dive trip went well, all things considered. The visibility was crap and the current was so strong that by the time I caught sight of something I was already floating past it, but our dive instructor was great and the water calmed considerably – enough that our lunch even stayed on our plates.

Breakfast had been an 8am serving of watermelon, bad bananas and donuts (guess which two I didn’t eat), so by the time lunch was served around 1 I was starving. Unfortunately, though I had confirmed both the night before and again the morning of the dive that they could accommodate my diet, lunch consisted of green beans cooked with meat and a side of white rice. Apparently this was “the one day they didn’t make vegetable curry.” I had white rice for lunch. At least the sweet chili sauce added some flavor.

We had about 45 minutes to walk around the island after our second dive. Had I known it would be so gorgeous (it was a tropical paradise), I would have stayed the night. Unfortunately, I brought just a day bag of stuff for diving and had no choice but to head back with the boat on water just as rough as the morning ride in. Luckily I found a corner of the boat in which to hide and cover myself with a towel, successfully avoiding most of the water splashing over the deck for the 3 hours back to town.

Back in town I showered, got yellow daal and naan (apparently made without dairy?) for the third night in a row at the local Indian restaurant, and finished my book while watching the total lunar eclipse.

Today I caught a minibus to Kampot. Kampot is the definition of a lazy river town and is a much-needed respite from Sihanoukville’s party atmosphere. Tomorrow I have a tour booked for Bokor mountain and its abandoned French resort town, a pepper plantation, waterfall, and a sunset river cruise.

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