|The last 13 Days: Our trip to Sihannoukville was set to be a break from the road for a few days. A town on the coast of Cambodia SV is a collection of beaches. Pre-commercialisation, the family run/ ex-pat funded restaurants and hostels have charm, far from the developed city beaches of Nha Trang in Vietnam. We stayed in a guesthouse on serendipity beach called Makara, holiday type bungalows with bathrooms and aircon, quite different to our current cocaroachy abode. On our first day here we bumped into Kimberly. We had previously met in Hoi An. Her mannerisms reminded us of Laura from the land of Devon and her humour was an instant hit. We formed a small engligh tribe and so ground hog day begins....
Whilst our first few days here were spent as tourists, nervously putting our towels on the beach and keeping a keen eye on our belongings. Within a few days we were more like residents. We had spent a few nights drinking cocktails, spirits and cheap beer at a bar on the beach named 'The Nap House', watching fire dancers (cant think of the actual name), late night swims in the sea, bit of dancing on the beach and generally being nice sociable brits. Tom and I loved it here, obviously the beach has a lot to do with it, the water is clear and a nice combination of turbulent and tranquil outbursts. After moving on every few days we had finally found somewhere we could stay for a while.
Tom celebrated his 25th Birthday in style, at the Nap House, with a red flowery hat on, drinking a bucket of rhum and coke and dancing about in the sea. I managed to pick a few excellent presents from the array of junk they sold in local shops, including dairy milk FRUIT and NUT!!! (an amazing find), birthday donuts, sparklers, a cigar and a pack of golden virginia (also unheard of around these parts). I also had a shell we found on the beach made into a necklace. After a culture shock of a trip to the market (fish guts, pigs heads and strung up live chickens), these were quite an achievement. We had a firebreather pizza (loving the chillis) and Tom had a self confessed bloody good night.
The people here are lovely. The children particularly enchanting. All using their tricks and skills to make a couple of dollars, they are quick witted and cunning. Challenging tom to a game of pool, one boy got tom to buy his bracelet. They play cards, tick tack toe and pool until they have charmed some money out of you, they have practiced everyday for quite sometime and you never win. Our friend kimberly is particularly soft, she displays a catalogue of bracelets and a hair braid. Not that we can talk, one night we thought some thread woven fish would be nice for the neices, we came back with 3 fish, 1 shrimp and 2 bracelets. Having had a couple of drinks, later realised that the colours look different in broad day light. The red bracelet I had bought for Tom was actually bright girly pink...oh dear. One day a cambodian couple saw me commenting on their gorgeous baby, before I knew it, they had handed her over to me. The father obviously loved all that is western, had named the baby monica. At 6 months the baby responded to sit down, stand up amongst others, she was being talked to in english every day, a fellow boss-eyed being, i think we had a bond.
Our short stay though was extended because of Chivas Shack, or not so much Chivas but the people we met there. The shack was opposit our guesthouse and right on the beach. It began by us going for breakfast and eventually we were pretty much living there, sitting in the same chairs, drinking the same drinks with the chivas clan. 3 girls and a guy from london or thereabouts, chris from brum, alfred from nigeria, kimberly the manc, mike from texas and us. We slowly filtered out as the days went on, but for a while, as chris put it, 'we were a community'. I'm not going to pretend chivas shack was paradise. The cushions on the seats were damp, with an unfortunate fragrance, the wooden floorboards were ant ridden and there was a steady stream of visiting rats that were bigger than those you would keep in a cage. But sitting in a basket chair, staring at the sea and discussing the latest topic of interest, you could get lost for days. The highlights included late night music sessions. A late comer kat from tennesey was learning to play some drums and had brought them with her. Alfred was amazing on them and various other instruments were fashioned out of pots, pans and one night a lighter and a coke bottle(toms instrument of the day). Ball games in the sea, yoga on the beach, late night swimming...these were the days. One day a poorly interpreted email sent me into a raving loon tangent, as I thought the new smith baby had been born, crazy dancing followed, only to be informed I had totally jumped the gun...still awaiting news bro
Sihanoukville is a ganga haven. It is everywhere. Here you can buy a 'happy' pizza, with extra happy, 'happy' tea /milkshakes, whatever you want really.Everybody sells it, especially the took took drivers, everybody smokes it and it seems to be a way of life. Prehaps thats why people get stuck here. Our friend Alfred had been here for 5 months. Our extended stay provoked us to change our flights, there was no way we were going to do the rest of SE Asia in 6 weeks. However, inevitably people move on. Once the local barman knows you're a gin and tonic girl, you have got to get going I say. we said our reluctant goodbyes to chris and alfred, the only remaining two and have made our way back to phnom penh. This time to lakeside, a backpacker zone, far less seedy than our previous hang out and alot more relaxed.