14.10.11 - Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville - Day 1 Victory Beach
This morning I got the bus to the coast of Cambodia. Time for relaxation. 2.5 weeks of constant non-stop moving, taking in all the sights I wanted to see over three countries and i'm pooped. Time to chill for five days me thinks.
I decided to head for the coast of Cambodia rather than head back to Southern Thailand in the end because to get there, I would have spend three days travelling for just 2 days of relaxtion. More effort than it was worth I think. Not only that, the Coast of Cambodia is a mere 4 hours away from the captital on the bus, so it made much more sense to head here for a full 5 days of beach and sun. Naturally the beaches won't be as stunning as the likes of Phuket, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi in the South of Thailand, but it doesn't matter i'll definitely head there another day in the future :-)
In the mini-bus which arrived to collect me from my GH were a couple from Australia. He was in Pnomh Penh on business for a week where his wife joined him and then have decided to spend a week on the coast as a holiday together. They were lovely, Vicky and Craig. They're from Brisbane and Craig works for an organisation called Cambodian Childrens Fund, which was set up by a hollywood actor who wanted to do something for the world and help children in less deprived countries gain life skills, experience and a future. When Vicky was telling me what he does, I was in awe of it and realised what a lovely thing to do. Being away and visiting these countries, you quickly learn how poor these people are. They can't afford food onthe tables, let alone the proper health care that they need, so the thought of having a skill or even an job doesn't really enter most of the local people. To know that there are organisations like this out here really made me feel so much better and will definitely be something i'll look into when i get home for you can sponsor a child out here. I know it's sounds silly, especially when you think about all the money we plug into Comic Relief and Children in Need in England, but to actually see it for yourself, to actually see the poverty with your own eyes - it's really something else and it really has made me wiser to world. To know that these children literately have NOTHING, it's very sad.
This morning's bus journey was FAR better than the last night bus journey I took. I actually listened to my ipod for most of the journey again, and of course slept - (why not, eh?!). TBH the views weren't great, nothing like Laos anyway so I didn't really miss anything. After so much walking around in the northern parts of Cambodia it was nice to rest. Not least i didn't sleep well again last night.
Arriving into the bus station in Sihanoukville Vicky bless her took down the name of the hotel i'm staying at, since we're at different beaches on the coast and said they'd like me to join them for dinner one night. I thought that was really sweet of her but really didn't expect to actully receieve a note from reception the following day to say that they had actually called.
Getting off the bus and being bombarded by all the taxi and tuk tuk drivers was yet another hairy experience, not exactly sure why I wasn't used to it at this point, but hey ho.... it's still unnerving all the same when you have about 30 men approaching you yelling at you to get THIER car!!! Lonely traveler and all that..... it's quite scary. Nonetheless I arrived safe and sound to the hotel. It looked lovely. Just up a slight incline and exactly what I was looking forward too. I learnt afterwards that the hotel was actually brand new and so that's why it didn't appear on any of the maps that i'd seen previous to arriving. The staff at the reception desk were more than accomodating. A welcome cocktail followed my a bellboy taking my backpack up to my room.... this is the life... NO more back packing stylie for the next 5 days... flashpacker!!! Whoop whoop!!!
My room was massive and SO lovely. Air Con, a massive queen size bed and a gorgeous shower room. Smashing... time to wander around and get to know my surroundings. Check out all the facilities of the hotel and hopefully go and get something to eat.
Unfortunately, it was at this point that things started to go badly. As I headed back to the reception area I noticed a few people checking out.. all with backpacks and them telling the staff thank you for their stay but they were headed for Serendipity Beach not. Trying my best not to read too much into it, I immediately headed out to scout out the pool. Oops, soon as I found it, it was dirty and there was no chance I getting into it. Half the reason i'd booked this hotel and I couldn't even use it. Next stop, the restaurant. Being nearly lunchtime I expected it to be ramo. There was NO-ONE there! As i walked in there were about 8 members of waiting staff all staring at me ready to help. i told them I was literately just having a wander around the hotel, with curiosity getting the better of me asking where all the other guests in the hotel were. I was told they were all at the beach. Great, I'll head for there then. I double checked my route at reception and off I went. It was just a short 8 minute walk away but even then the only people around were the locals with motorbikes or the tuk tuk drivers asking if i needed a lift anywhere. Even the other hotels I passed had noone else in them. My excitement of reaching the beach resort i'd booked after a hard long slog for the previous 2.5 weeks was slowly deflating. WHERE IS EVERYBODY?
As I reached the beach I discovered that it was very small - albeit beautiful but once again noone was on it baring a handful of people. I honestly couldn't get my head around it. Rather than dwell on it, I was hungry so I decided to head into the closest bar for a drink and some food, found somewhere with wifi and whatsapped Scott while I waited. the barman told me that this particular beach brought mainly Russian custom to it. Fab, It was then that i realised that all the people who were on the beach were talking Russian to one another. At this point I realised that I had royally f*cked up with my choice of destination. The Lonely Planet guide didn't tell me this did it! Grr!
After eating and mainly just getting on with it and chilling out for a few hours at the bar I decided to head back the hotel. On my route back the barman I got talking too was with some other dudes wearing Boat Tour attire. He asked if i fancied taking a boat tour to some of the offshore islands tomorrow. My immediate question was ''will there be other people on it?''. He assured me there would be as most of his clientel come from Serendipity Beach , the boat just departs from the pier here at Victory Beach. I figured it'd be better than sitting on the beach with a load of Russians around me tomorrow so I purchased a ticket and was told to arrive by 9.30am at the pier. It was an all day trip so it was perfect for me.
Walking back to the hotel I had immediately decided that i wanted to change my booking. It seemed there was NOTHING going on here, so although it was exactly what I was after, a little relaxation.... I at least wanted someone to talk to. I felt awful sitting in the managers office asking to reduce my booking to two nights instead of the five, since i'd only been there a couple of hours AND the hotel was gorgeous... but there was just no way I could stay here. bless the manager though. i proper laid it on thick about being a lone traveller and anted to meet other people without the possibility of doing it here and I think he felt sorry for me since he was massively accomodating and said it'd be fine. Phew... problem solved.
Even though the water in the pool was gross i decided to sit around the pool on the sun lounger and chill out for a few hours before heading back to my room. Leah and Tristan were on skype when I returned and MASSIVELY cheered me up! It was so good to speak with home and to see there smiling faces back at me. Gabriel was a school which was a shame, but Tristan was so cute constantly repeating ''I can't see Wachel''. I hadn't brought myself to skyping Leah and the kids at this point purely on the basis that I needed to sort my head out be strong for when I did see them on Skype because I knew in seeing them I'd probably want to come home. Thankfully this wasn't the case after we'd finished speaking and i went to sleep with a huge amount of contentment and a smile on my face. :-)