Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cambodia - Sihanoukville

Nut and I visited Sihanoukville for a few days last week. Our main goal in returning to Cambodia was to see Angkor Wat but the beach that I enjoyed here last spring was calling and we decided to answer that call. Albert and Johnnie, good friends from Homer, told me of a new hotel that has recently opened, the Okata Guesthouse. It's near Victory Hill on the west side of town where many other hotels are located and is in an area I am already familiar with. It turned out to be a great deal in terms of value -- for $10/night we got a brand new room with balcony, flatscreen TV, wi-fi, fridge, and a nice view from our 4th floor room. Oh,  yes, it has an elevator too. Aircon was a few bucks more per night but we didn't need it at this time of year. I enjoyed a couple of hours on the balcony in the evenings -- nice spot. (N10.63105 E103.50529)

The view from our balcony - Okata Guesthouse - Sihanoukville
Sihanoukville, and Cambodia generally, is not considered an ideal tourist destination for many travelers. Cambodia is a very poor country, the roads and markets are littered with refuse and you're constantly accosted by beggars, tuk-tuk drivers, and people selling everything from lotus roots to marijuana. But it has its charms too and Sihanoukville is an an up and coming hot spot. There are many new hotels and condos going up and if the beaches were developed and protected, they'll draw tourists. The seaside nearby isn't as spectacular as what can be found in Thailand but the people are friendly and the prices are right.

I rented a moto and Nut and I went to Otres Beach both days to swim in the warm water and eat some good Kmer-style stir fry at Mein-Mein (N10.57789, E103.54796 - see this earlier entry from last spring). The photos below are scenes from our ride out and back.

 Nut watches a rain squall near Otres Beach, Sihanoukville

Stormy sky near Otres Beach, Sihanoukville
The road to Kbal Chhay
We also took a ride to Kbal Chhay waterfall about 10 km out of town to the north. We found a pleasant uncrowded park with good swimming. Last spring when I was here it was the dry season and the falls were totally dry. This is how they appear in the "winter".

The falls at Kbal Chhay (N10.67632 E103.60884)

We took a short walk upstream to the top of the falls where I took a dip. Refreshingly cool, almost too cool for my heat acclimatized body. I caught this little Kmer girl taking a swim a bit later.

Next year I think we'll spend a lot more time at Sihanoukville. Next stop, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat.