Experiencing the bitter before the sweet in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

When I was planning my trip to Cambodia (which to be honest I hadn’t spent long doing) I knew I had to visit Sihanoukville (although we called it snoopyville for a while as we couldn’t pronounce it, it is actually sha-nouk-ville). The photos I had seen looked beautiful and we knew it would be the perfect escape from the cities we felt like we had spent way too much time in. We were both craving a bit of relaxation time too after a hectic week spent sight seeing and travelling, SIhanoukville seemed like the right place to do that.

So after a panic booking (after realising our bus wouldn’t reach Sihanoukville until around 11pm) we were on our way, excited to see some white sand and clear water. We were soon disappointed when we rocked up to ‘Moonlight rock and roll’ backpackers resort. It was situated near a dirty track and we were worried to find it was pitch black and there was no one there except a group of drunk hippies. It turned out that group of drunk hippies actually owned the place. Through slurring, a lot of confusion and nagging from his friends to ‘get it sorted so they can go to the party already’ we were finally given our key to what we thought would be a beach hut with an ocean view. We were severely disappointed.

the bad image quality is due to the fact I didn't want to stay their long enough to get a proper camera out

the bad image quality is due to the fact I didn’t want to stay their long enough to get a proper camera out

We were lead (by someone who could barely see straight) up some questionable stairs which were lined with fresh puke and through some wooden corridors (that were as narrow as the ones I had seen at the S21 prison the day before!) to our ‘lovely’ room. Our room was a darkened section of the corridor with a dirty mattress, some rags for blankets and a mosquito net with massive gaping holes in it. He left us there and we saw something large moving above us. A rat. Great.

our lovely room

If we weren’t so exhausted and it wasn’t past midnight then we would have made every effort to find somewhere else, but for now we were stuck. It was so dirty that we couldn’t even bring ourselves to use the shared toilets or showers and I was terrified to look anywhere but the floor through fear of seeing cockroaches, spiders or any other horrible creatures. In the end I decided to just suck it up (which wasn’t easy considering I’m arachnophobic). We had a good fan which was something, and there wasn’t any bugs I could see. So I just wrapped myself in the blanket, went as far into the centre of the bed as possible and attempted sleep, but not before the guy in the next room shouted at me to shut up for saying one word to jess. Wow I was so happy this place was friendly as well as beautiful!

Around an hour later I woke up to a power cut (they happen a lot in Cambodia). The fan had gone off and we were in total darkness. I was absolutely terrified. This was made so much worse when Jess jumped up having heard a very loud buzzing in our room – a buzzing which got louder and louder until it was right by our heads, and right by the massive gaping hole in our mosquito net. To add to this we could hear all sorts of noises and shuffling all around our bed. I was so scared I could have cried.

massive hole in the net

massive hole in the net

Even though I was boiling and the blanket was fleecy, thick and smelly I decided I’d rather sweat to death than be eaten by tropical insects. I covered my head and body with it and just lay there, absolutely sweltering, hoping morning would come as soon as possible.

In the morning we got up at 7am, eager to get out. We left without even using their bathroom as it was that much of a state. We did however check out the ‘ocean view’ through a hole in the shack. They were right that we could see the ocean – it was a dot on the horizon. When we checked out an extremely drunk guy questioned why we didn’t want to stay there longer. Unbelievable. What would make it more unbelievable was that just across the road, and for $2 more a night, we found paradise in the form of Sea View bungalows. We had to laugh at the contrast between our first night in Sihanoukville and our second, maybe it was a good thing as it really made us appreciate what we’d stumbled across. Our few days here have been the best of my trip so far and I never would have thought it after that first night! I’ll write about that next.

The other side of the road

The other side of the road

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