Thursday, 12 January 2012
Sihanoukville...the first day 12th January 2012
Finally in Sihanoukville, Cambodia 12 January 2012
I've been to a developing country before so I know reasonably well what to expect this time. Kids running around in rags, garbage and trash strewn everywhere, power cuts and flies. My first few steps onto Victory Hill reveal, I suppose some might say a rustic charm just about everywhere. Priority now is to find Sakal, the place I had corresponded with prior to arriving here. I'm pointed down the hill, towards the beach. The lanes are rough, really need hiking boots! The surface improves further down the hill and almost at the bottom are the Sakal Bungalows and Guesthouse. The guesthouse part looks quite smart from the outside, but the bungalows are little more than medium sized sheds on stilts - Just enough room to swing a cat, but on the plus side each unit has a private toilet and shower. Personaly, I would feel clostrophobic staying in a bungalow and wasn't keen on spending any time in one, but turns out to be irrelevant anyway because they are full up. The restaurant is smart, relaxed and informal with a reasonably priced menu. Might as well eat here and consider my next move.
Refuelled, it's back up the hill to negotiate with Green Mood. Lodgings secured for the next 7 days at 5 us$ per night, that's 3.35 pounds give or take a few pence. There are lodgings and guesthouses all over the place - along this street, round the corner and down the hill. 5-10 us$ per night seems to be an average for Joe tourist who turns up unannounced. There are better deals to be negotiated for long term stays - more than 4 weeks so I'm told by an American chap, left over from the war with Vietnam.
Time to go exploring. January is supposed to be cool according to various web sources. It's about 31 degrees c and quite humid but occasionally breezy, providing temporary relief. Down the hill again towards the sea. Garbage is strewn, fly tipped extensively, although occasionally there are organised piles of black bags. Despite this the view down the hill is still quite picturesque. The bungalows (sheds on stilts) are set amongst lush tropical vegetation, colourful with associated bird song and that scratching noise made by crickets. Dwellings constructed of timber and corrugated iron are dotted about, but surprisingly not that many. A main road crosses bottom of the hill, opposite is Victory Beach, a pier and an sign that has Airport spanning it's width! A quick nose around here and I'm astonished to find an old plane mounted on pillars in a building made to look like a hangar. it's a bar and restaurant by day and a disco by night. The plane is an old Russian manufactured airliner - neat! More investigation here required tomorrow but for now it's a walk along the small beach and back onto the boulevard, which is looked after extensively. Nicely painted pillars, well kept grass and a monument to the Vietnamese, possibly something to do with them driving out the Khmer Rouge.
I'm feeling quite tired, still slightly jet lagged and the humidity is sapping my energy. I need to head back to Green Moods. Drink some water, there's plenty of it around. Seems like every few yards there is a cart or makeshift stall selling among the usual fruits and snacks, bottled water. 12p for a small bottle from roadside vendors, but 25p from organised shops.Another thing every few yards - a collection of men with mopeds and tuk tuks. They seem convinced I need a moto or tuk tuk ride! I don't need a ride, not today thank you. Every street corner has this collection of individuals, and inbetween, every few moments a moped rider pulls alongside, again convinced I need a ride. I don't really have anywhere to ride to really. It's a routine to get accustomed to if since my intention is trekking everywhere - within reason of course. Day 1 over and initial thoughts are that there is a distinct lack of people and traffic around. I imagined this to be a busy place. Also, It's not the complete culture shock first timers to a developing country usually experience. There is infrastructure and organisation evident in numerous building projects - this country is moving forward with the Russians having quite a significant presence.
My Photos of Sihanoukville are here...