|View from our bungalow|
at The Mango Rooms
The Serendipity Beach area of Sihanoukville is very quiet, almost sleepy, during the day. This is mainly because all the teenagers and mad party people, who are the main visitors to this area, go to bed when the sun comes up and remain asleep during daylight hours, crawling back to the bars and clubs when it gets dark so they can start partying again until the early hours.
There are 3 or 4 beaches in the Sihanoukville area and although it is only a new town (building began on the port town in 1950), it still manages to have a colonial feel about it. The other beach areas are not quite so manic but as we did not intend spending much time here, and everything we needed was located in the Serendipity beach area including The Dive Shop and travel agents it was convenient for us to stay here.
We had booked into The Mango Rooms where we stayed in a little bungalow set into a little hillside with view of the sea for only $23 a night. Granted, the wooden bungalow was a bit rickety, and Paul put his foot right through one of the rungs of the staircase leading to the veranda, and it was so rustic that at least one beetle fell on my head on the first night but for us it was just perfect. Our little veranda was surrounded by tropical plants and we could just sit and gaze out to sea and the islands in the distance.
Sihanoukville feels very different from the rest of Cambodia. It is definitely where everyone comes for sun, sand, beer and clubbing (and no doubt more!). Staying so close to the beach meant we could hear music almost all night coming from somewhere fairly close by until about 5 o’clock in the morning. But it wasn’t too intrusive and was to be expected in a place like this.
On our first evening we arranged to meet Danni and Patricia for dinner (the two Canadians we had met at Nature Lodge in Sen Monorom). They were both heading back to Phnom Penh the following day before returning to Canada at the weekend. They brought along some friends they had met on the bus down from Phnom Penh, Moon and Ly.
|The bar at The Mango Rooms|
Ly’s mother is Cambodian and his father is Vietnamese and he now lives in Switzerland, having emigrated there with his parents when he was a child. Ly has been back to Cambodia twice and next wants to visit his father’s home country the next time he returns to south east Asia.
|If there's a resident cat, we|
always make friends with it
As Ly and Moon were so young when the Khmer Rouge regime ended, they have no first hand memories and therefore it was a little easier to speak to them about their families’ experience without feeling that you were being too intrusive or bringing up painful personal memories.
|The Dive Shop|
We spent the next few days making arrangements. First Paul booked his PADI Open Water diving course, and we also wanted to spend some time on the island of Koh Rong and, if possible, the smaller island of Koh Rong Samloem. We had already been in touch with Dennis at The Dive Shop and spent a couple of hours with him making arrangements. After booking the PADI course, 4 nights on Koh Rong and a further 6 nights on Koh Rong Samloem at a place called Robinson Bungalows. We also booked a 2 night Liveaboard trip where Paul would also take his PADI Advanced Open Water course and I would do a bit of snorkelling.
|The pool at the Beach Road|
Two days staying on Serendipity Beach was enough for us. It’s the place to be if you are half our age and while it has been said before that we enjoy the odd beer and obviously love a good music festival or gig, when the time came we were quite happy to leave Sihanoukville and head to the relative quiet of Koh Rong.
|Waiting for the sleeper bus|
to Bangkok before finally
leaving Sihanoukville and
We returned twice to Sihanoukville before we left Cambodia for Bangkok. The first time we booked in for 2 nights at the Beach Road Hotel, away from the mayhem of the beach party scene with the luxury of a pool to cool down in , while we waited to embark on our second Liveaboard trip. Admittedly this was a luxury but it was my birthday after all and also, Paul wanted to enjoy some more diving purely for fun without having the pressure of doing a course.
When we returned from the second Liveaboard we spent another 2 nights at the same hotel waiting to catch the bus to Bangkok which is another, rather unpleasant story entirely. The sole purpose of our heading to Bangkok was to obtain 60 day visas for Indonesia so it was a necessary evil.
Otherwise, our last weeks spent in Cambodia, as I will explain in the next posts, were spent having an amazing time, enjoying life on desert islands and exploring the seas around Koh Rong. Furthermore, we could not have wished for better company.