This place is amazing! Perhaps we have just captured the essence of what our ‘Teach or Beach’ journey is all about! As school kids and teachers go back to school in our home town of Adelaide, South Australia, here we are parked on a stunning beach on the coast of Cambodia.
Now your average traveller would never discover this place. If you did travel to Cambodia, as currently approximately 3 million tourists do in a year, it would generally be part of a South East Asian package. You would probably visit Thailand or Vietnam, plus Cambodia. Which would mean that you had time to visit Siem Reap, to see the splendour of Angkor Wat, and possibly Phnom Penh to experience the capital and the horror and sadness of the killing fields. And then you would need to be heading back to work!
After all the culture and history of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, we were looking for a beach, some warm water, white sand and clear blue sky, sadly a little rare in many parts of Asia. Well we have certainly found it. An $8 bus trip from the capital, it is a backpackers paradise! We booked into a great hotel, Beach Road Hotel, complete with ensuite, airconditioning, Wifi, cable TV and pool only a short stroll from the beach. ($23.)
There are lots of islands within a short boat ride of Sihanoukville. For $15 or less, including breakfast, lunch, water, fruit and coffee, you can tour past three islands, snorkel and visit one. You also have the option of staying as long as you like on one of the islands, with a pick-up any day of your choosing! And there are many tropical islands to choose from, all within 2 or 3 hours of the coast. Koh means island. Many stay on Koh Rung, the same size as Hong Kong. Others choose Koh Rung Samloen, Koh Kaong Kang or Koh Russei (Bamboo Island.) You are spoilt for choice. French Survivor was apparently filmed on/near Lazy Beach on Koh Rung Samloen.
Meanwhile, back at the beach, the nightlife is incredible! Every night there is a huge row of restaurants offering a seafood feast for a fairly standard $3. You are literally right on the beach having a candle-lit dinner in beautiful comfortable chairs. The meal typically includes fresh barracouda, squid and prawns, all caught from the ocean that day. Throw in salad, fries or steamed rice and it’s a wonderful meal. And you can wash it down with 50 cent pints of Angkor draught beer or $1.50 cocktails.
While you are eating, great music plays on the sound systems up and down the beach. It seems the next generation is discovering our music all over again. The air is dry and warm every night with a gentle sea breeze and you are entertained by a fire-twirler and fire-twirlers. The water temperature is a consistent 27 – 31 degrees! One minor drawback is a steady parade of salespeople selling fireworks, bracelets, sunglasses, massages, pedicures and hair removal. But a polite ‘no’ usually moves them on. There is also a range of beggars: the legless, the armless or the poor.
If you want to escape any of the contents of the previous paragraph, you can of course stay on any of the islands, or take a short tuk tuk ride to one of the nearby beaches. Victory Beach and Otres Beach come highly recommended.
We took a day trip to Ostres Beach earlier today and we are booking into a place right on the beach next week. Fantastic little bungalows, only $25 per night, reduced to $20 a night if you book for a week!
Life’s a beach!