Rumsky's Australasia Walkabout travel blog

Local market women selling snacks

Cambodian gas station

Beach vendors carry everything they need on their shoulders to whip up...

Lovely Serendipity beach


We sure did seem to be accumulating lousy travel stories in SE Asia. Ke put us on the bus (yes, BUS this time--no more boats for me) to the coast, which required a change of buses in Phnom Penh. With hindsight being 20-20, I'd have done the Cambodian trip quite differently by staying in Phnom Penh (PP) at that point and then carrying on down the coast to Vietnam. BUT, that didn't happen. Instead, we boarded our bus on a random street corner in Battambang at 7:30 (it was supposed to leave at 7:00) and it took soooo long to get to PP that we were 15 minutes late for our bus to Sihanoukville. Luckily, the bus company held up the bus and we raced to meet it, having no time to pee or eat. Then when we got to some random gas station on the outskirts of Sihanoukville, the driver told all the foreigners to get off and began pulling out our backpacks. We didn't know any better (after all, we had picked up the bus on some random street corner), so we all got off where the autotaxis and mototaxis were eagerly waiting for us. Charging outrageous amounts to bring people to the beach where all the hostels are located, Fran and I kept scanning the crowd for our pre-arranged pick up. We eventually called the hotel on the phone and found out that the bus had continued on to the bus station (with all the locals on board) where our ride was waiting. Most hostels, etc, were within walking distance of the bus station. Apparently, the bus driver was operating along with the autotaxi drivers to make foreigners get out early so that they would be forced to hire the expensive transport into town. We have been travelling a long time, and that is a new trick on us. We were lucky that our hotel provided our pick up but it took almost an hour and several calls (at 20 cents a minute) to finally figure out what was going on. Fran and I immediately dubbed Sihanoukville "Snooker-you-ville." Fran wrote a nasty email to the company and told them we would never take them again. That didn't happen either! They seem to be the only game in town.

After our annoying arrival, Sihanoukville turned out to be delightful. The beach was clean, water clear, and lots of great restaurants lined up offering cheap seafood and drink. The vendors walking by mostly sold yummy food and easily took no for an answer; much less hassle than beaches in Central America, for example. We had a great time and bemoaned the fact that we only planned a day there; we could easily have done more. But paradise awaits just offshore...



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