I'd been tossing up between Sinhanoukville (party resort) and returning to Rabbit island for my beach getaway. I opted for the former eventually as I'd been told of a quieter beach on the stretch called Otres. I didn't quite get the beach bungalow I had in mind as I seemed to end up on the wrong beach road for that so I checked in at the Queen Beach resort. It was a bit dark (especially on the two mornings when the electricity was out) as it was in the trees but comfortable enough. A path by the side of the huts lead down onto a beautiful stretch of white sand and turquoise sea and almost immediately decided to stay for 4 days instead of 2! This also meant avoiding being in Phnom Penh over Christmas so I was happy with that.
My first 'job' was to find a new book (again!) and every cafe/bar/bungalow had a small selection of well read novels, barely any in English. I eventually found a Joanna Trollope in a somewhat seedy bar full of American expats who were discussing their friend Dave who was banged up in Phnom Penh jail awaiting trial on Christmas Day. Some sort of sex crime (rife here) I believe. I had to sit and listen to all this whilst finishing the last few pages of my current book to make the exchange. There was also a rather large bloke with a bandana and a oversized moustache having a massage on a beach lounger, moaning that the sand was getting into the oil. By the looks of him he would be happier on the back of a Harley Davison! I fled this place at the earliest opportunity and spent the next few days lounging around on sunbeds and ordering food and cocktails without even leaving them. Every now and then when I got too hot I wallowed in the clear blue ocean. It was so blissful and quiet and I particularly liked the Bamboo Shack as they played the best music - The Doors, The Beatles etc! But I laughed at the locals who just hung around in hammocks wearing huge crash helmets! On Christmas day I had a bacon roll for breakfast and squid and chips for lunch. This was served to me by a Cambodian with long hair wearing an Arsenal kit, santa hat and bare feet. There was a puppy begging at my side and chickens sleeping onder the sunbeds. I believe England was buried under several inches of snow at the time but I found it hard to imagine. I know where I'd rather be. How lazy. There were several ladies who strolled up and down the beach offering to give you maggages and other assorted beauty treatments. I opted for a pedicure, manicure and leg threading (not so relaxing) and I have to say I wan't too keen on seeing other peoples sunburnt flesh being pummelled on the on the loungers next to me. At those times I buried my head in my Joanna Trollope which incidently lasted me a day and a half. I resorted to Sudoku and sleeping after this.
Most tourists didn't do much to celebrate Christmas but I did spot one character who thought he was Father Christmas. He wore a Santa hat and fake grey sideburns and I caught him writing 'Klaus' in the sand on Christmas Eve. What a strange person.....
On Boxing day I took a long trip via Phnom Penh up to Battambang. This involved the, usual exploits - bus not turning up, impromptu motorbike rides, breakdowns, long delays at roadside cafes selling dodgy food, eating junk food with Austrians and I can hardly write about these journeys any more. At least I found a book to read - the true story of a girl who grew up during the Pol pot regime. Cheery.