On September 15 we left Siem Reap on a overnight bus to Phnom Penh which took about 11 hours. We chose the Giant Ibis overnight bus which has mattresses instead of chairs to sleep in. This proved to be a very good investment because we slept right through the night. We had charging facilities and on-board wifi which was perfect. We left at around 10pm, we were given bottled water and there was a clean toilet for us to use thankfully -(it did get very wet in the night so going in there with socks and trying to find the light was quite annoying). We arrived at the Giant Ibis office in Phnom Penh around 6am to which time it was already thronging with backpackers who were waiting for the office to open at around 9am. Our onward bus to Sihanoukville was leaving 09h30. We could’nt even find a seat, so we decided to go to a nearby restaurant and wait it out…at least there was a toilet and air conditioner.
We had a mediocre breakfast that was of course at a highly inflated price but at least we were feeling a bit better. Our bus came, we were given a pastry (this only happens in the morning bus not the overnight one) and water. Off we went for 6 hours on ta pretty bad road. We were happy to stop for lunch after about 3 – 4 hours straight. I ordered chicken noodle stirfry and Derek thought he would try out the fried chicken *laughing out loud* It was burnt and scolded to the point that it had become dry and inedible and we did not have much time left so I asked them to put my food (which came late) in a take away and I shared my food with a disappointed Derek as we continued our trip.
We arrived in Sihanoukville, negotiated a good price with a tuk tuk and headed to our accommodation which we had found on AirBNB. It was very nice there but we had to cross the freeway to get to the beach area which was not really ideal considering that there were not any street lights. That forced us to wait till sunset and then quickly make our way back before it got dark because we were always on the beach. The place we stayed at is managed by a nice Russian couple -the wife made amazing Russian food at a very reasonable price compared to most places in Siha.
We spent 2 nights there and after seeing beach chalets right on the beach we decided to move there instead. It seemed like a good idea at first but then once we were staying in a traditional beach hut reality kicked in…There was no air ventilation at all, the fan was so cheap and barely worked and the food was beyond horrible. On day 2 Derek got the worst food poisoning from the chicken noodle soup he had eaten at the restaurant next door to where we stayed. It was pissing rain, he was running a hectic temperature and I had to get ice from the bar, which I wrapped on a cloth and put on his forehead. The next day he was much better and it seemed as if the pills I was pumping him with the night before had actually helped *huge sigh of relief*.
From then on we decided to limit the risks and started eating at two amazing restaurants: Pappa Pippo, an Italian place that has amazing pizza, and the Sea Garden restaurant. We also moved out of the grim beach chalets and moved over the street to Otres Lodge. It was so beautiful. A beach hut with a working air-conditioner (heaven).
Despite all that happened in Sihanoukville I actually enjoyed the place, mostly when when I was lying on a lounger and watching the sunset or reading a book. I had no idea that Cambodia had such cool beaches. The beach is not the greatest beach I’ve ever been to and the sea can become quite rough but on a good day the water actually felt amazing and was always warm.
The one thing both Derek and myself couldn’t get over was how dirty Cambodia was. There is so much beauty and culture in the country but they still have a long way to go. I’m glad I went and saw the temples which were just amazing to me , and the beach area Sihanoukville, but it is a not a place I would be returning to in a hurry.