Beach Life in Sihanoukville and Koh Ta Kiev

I promised in my last blog post that this one will be a much lighter read than the last two. Don’t worry, I’ve kept my promise and it’s been so nice to finally relax after such intense travelling the last few weeks.
From Phnom Penh we got a 5 hour bus to Sihanoukville. We’d had such a heavy day the day before that we decided to spend the next few nights resting all day and partying all night.
We arrived just before dinner time so we headed towards to the seafront to look for food and feel sand beneath our toes. We took a wrong turning and ended up walking down a road full of street vendors. The tables were rammed with locals and there were all sorts of smells in the air. Some food looked delicious and some looked very questionable but we opted for pizza and pasta with free garlic bread.
We headed back to our party hostel and went to the bar only to find that it died down since we last saw it. Nevertheless we got a drink each and made a good attempt at 2 person drinking games. After a while we Sussed that no one else was going out and it was all getting very quiet so we headed for some bars that we’d seen on our way back from dinner. We were just walking along talking about how many couples we had seen that are a white man and Asian woman (and never the other way around) when suddenly, we realised that at these bars, all we could see were white men and Asian women! Then I saw the big sign saying ‘Sihanoukville Square’ and I remembered reading that this place is basically a red light district! It was quite an in depth article about all the code words like how “can I buy you a lady drink?” Means “will you have sex with me?” We felt a bit uncomfortable so we walked back past Don’t Tell Mama Bar and Pole Her Bat and headed for the beach. There still wasn’t much party happening here so we shared a bucket of vodka lemonade and then headed back.

The next day wasn’t the best weather ever but being British we persevered and went to the beach anyway. The sand and the sea were both so warm and it was so good to finally get a chance to sort out the tan lines on my feet. The only thing that could annoy me were the people who constantly came up to us asking if we wanted a pedicure or threading. One woman I didn’t even have to say no to as she stroked my soft leg and decided against asking me twice if I want my legs threaded.

In the evening, we needed to make a final decision about which island we wanted to spend the next two nights on. We had heard a lot of good things about Koh Rong before we came but recently we had heard from a few people that the open sewage on the island is making everyone really ill and on our first night here we had met someone who had come back to the mainland early because he was so sick. Two girls had recommended to us The Last Point hostel on Koh Ta Kiev so we looked into it and then went for it.
This was all decided in a Mexican restaurant called Maybe Later. Although a big group meant we had to wait for our food, the food we did have was delicious and we washed it all down with mojitos. After my quest for spicy food, I caved and chose hot instead of mild which I would never do in England and it was actually okay! One thing I also liked about this bar/restaurant was that there was unlimited free water and the waiters kept topping it up. It says in the menu that they don’t want tourists being dehydrated because it’s annoying having to constantly buy water abroad.
After dinner, we made another attempt at partying at our party hostel but again, there wasn’t the going out out vibe. We’d been given some free drink vouchers on the beach so walked down the road to Jack and Daniels Bar where two girls pounced on us and talked us into going. One free shot and a cocktail each and we’d already had enough of this bar so we headed for JJs Beach Club which was much better! Everyone who arrived before midnight got a free drink and luckily, we got there at 11.59 so the guy gave us a voucher and we sprinted to the bar. I quickly screenshotted my lock screen with the time just incase it struck midnight and the barman didn’t serve us. Anna 1 beach club 0. By this point we weren’t feeling dancing so we sat and people watched for a while which was so much more fun.

The next morning we got a tuk tuk to Seagarden Hotel on Otres 1 beach (which is so pretty!) and jumped on the boat to our hostel with about 8 other people. We checked in and we and 4 of the other people on the boat went to the bunk bed dorm room. When I say room, I kinda mean a space with 3 walls and a ceiling and the walls don’t even go all the way up to the ceiling. My bed was absolutely covered in dirt and sand that had fallen through the floorboards from the double bed dorm above but I was ready to embrace it. I had a pink mosquito net so I was happy.

This hostel consists of our dorm block, a few bungalows, an area where people were sleeping in hammocks, some toilets and showers and a bar/eating area in the middle. We went to the bar and got ourselves some lunch. We got chatting to people and soon realised that most people here had planned to stay 2-3 days and had ended up staying for 2-3 weeks! Most of the staff were the same too and had been there a few months. The vibe was so chilled and relaxed and I liked it.

After a few hours sunbathing and paddling in the sea, we went back to the bar for some drinks with Fiona, Kay, Alex and Ollie who were on the boat. Turns out that the sign that said “free beer 3-3:30pm” didn’t mean one free can like I thought, you buy one and then the rest are free until the time is up! We got a beer anyway and with my first can of Cambodia, I won a free beer! Unfortunately I couldn’t claim it on the island so I gave it as a tip to the staff when they’re on the mainland.

We played a few rounds of who am I with Mario, one of the staff who comes from China and I’m still not sure how funny he found it when we gave him Lesley Chow from the hangover… We stayed up til quite late chatting and drinking and then we put our shiny but sprayed bodies to bed. I slept so badly that night but I did enjoy being able to stargaze from my bed!
I woke up in a whirlwind of itches and despite my best efforts, I had quite a few mosquito bites! I also looked at my feet that were covered in sandfly bites (luckily they didn’t itch) so it looked like I had chicken pox or some other disease on my feet and ankles! Eventually, the 6 of us got ready, had pancakes and musli and very very sweet coffee for breakfast and headed out on a jungle walk to Paradise Beach.

Paradise beach is beautiful. It has super soft sand and sea so clear that I could see my feet even when the water was up to my neck and it was all so serene. That is until 11am and then all the suitcase tourists turned up. Within no time, the sea was lined with boats and we weren’t the only people on the beach anymore.

All was going fabulous. I got some colour on my very white skin, I ate some nice fruit that local people shared with us and we went for a swim in the sea. Alex and Ollie said they were going to swim to another island but Ammun and I refused to even attempt it so the four of us swam to some nearby rocks. I was the first to get there but panicked when I saw dark patches of seaweed and then bashed my knee on a clam covered rock that I hadn’t noticed at all. I got scared that I couldn’t see where I was walking or swimming so I stopped while the other three attempted to go around. After a while I sucked it up and slowly started to walk underwater towards the rocks. Within seconds I felt something sharp jab my toe and then I saw that it was black! I freaked out again and swam back to shore where Fiona told me it was probably a sea urchin. Ammun then returned to shore with one in her foot too!
The six of us decided we wanted to go back for lunch and beer o’clock so we headed back through the jungle via another hostel called Kactus. Here they told us that we needed to bash it hard with a flip flop to dissolve it and it’ll go in a few days.

After getting slightly lost and attacked by ants, we made it back to The Last Point about 3.10 so we decided against getting drunk in 20 mins. We had a very late lunch and Ammun and I continued to bash our feet with flip flops as we ate.
Later in the afternoon, the six of us plus a family from another hostel went for a boat ride. Our first stop was at elephant rock which I’m pretty sure the guy said it’s shaped like this naturally. The other 4 all climbed up and jumped off of it but once I heard that there were sharp things on the rock that could cut us I decided that one injury a day was enough for me.

We carried on for a while longer and saw the sunset which was lovely. We also saw the fishing boats slowly emerge and everything (except the big waves) was so peaceful. This guy sits at the front of the boat and watches out for rogue waves (like mini 3m tidal waves) as we were out in the open sea.

We got back and I had a really yummy fish curry for dinner. We all thought it would be a good idea to make a campfire and us 4 girls say and watched while the 2 boys ran around the island looking for firewood. What started as pieces of ripped cardboard and small sticks soon became us burning whole Palm branches! I have wanted to have a campfire on a beach for years now but never been able to do it. The only thing that could have made this better would be if we had marshmallows to roast!

Once again, I couldn’t sleep because all 26838262 of my bites were suddenly itching and my back was playing up and at 3.30am I gave up and started to read my kindle. Alex was also awake and told me about his dream that he had about jam. Some people have deep meaningful chats at 3:30am but not us, we talked about jam!
At 9am we had some breakfast, checked out and said goodbye to everyone before embarking on the boat one last time. The journey took about 1 hour and it was so choppy that we all got vey wet! We spent the rest of the day chilling at both Seagarden and back at Monkey Republic (our original hostel where the bus was picking us up). We caught up on everything we’d missed without wifi and made lots of plans for the next two weeks in Vietnam.

Im very excited to see Vietnam but also really sad to leave Cambodia behind. It’s obvious that Cambodia is still a developing country and it shows everywhere. It’s all fairly simplistic and I would love to go back and see more. Thank you Cambodia, it’s been brilliant!

Annalise x