The beachside resort of Sihanoukville has everything one could ask for: lovely beaches, deserted islands, and a buzzing nightlife. We spent a total of eight nights doing very little in a delightful hotel called Beach Road – opposite Monkey Republic. Five minutes away was Serendipity beach, which is not the cleanest but the sand feels lovely and the restaurants around serve wonderful $1 mango shakes. I think I will miss mango shakes more than anything after I return home.
Unfortunately the beach is full of hassle from locals desperately after the tourist dollar, selling services such as threading, manicures, massages, and seafood. It can definitely be overwhelming when all you’re after is a relaxing day in the sun (or under an umbrella if you’re like me!)
|Night time entertainment
Threading, by the way, is a method of removing hair using pieces of cotton in a king of scissor motion, but it involves plucking each individual hair. Matt described is as “more painful than a tattoo” and here is an incredibly sadistic but brilliant video of him having it done.
|Katie got a free sample but decided not to do it
|They finished off with a razor...
We also explored a different, quieter beach called Otres but it still felt noisy compared to our happy place, Gili Air. 20 minutes later, a terrific thunderstorm descended while I was swimming in the sea – it was tremendous. So tremendous that when another storm came that night, I did the same thing in the hotel’s swimming pool. The lightning illuminated the night in a clinical way like in a hospital– very unlike the yellowness of the sun.
Since I was young, it’s not happened often that I have actually relished being out in the rain. With no worries about getting wet (as I was already swimming) or damaging my precious electronics, I was able to experience rain in a care-free way. It took me back to my caveman routes and feeling the power of mother earth made me realise my own insignificance. Later, Katie crapped her pants when a lightning bolt struck the ground 5 meters from where we were having coffee.
|Otres beach was quieter but still busy
Since it looked like the rain would be sticking around for a while, I booked myself onto a cooking course. It was a full day course and I cooked spring rolls, banana flower salad, fish amok and fried bananas. The food was all delicious and the class was definitely worth the money since I got one-on-one tuition! I was the only person on the course that day so not only did I get the teacher’s undivided attention, but I was finished early meaning I could enjoy the sun, which had returned for the afternoon. The teacher was lovely and, although being the only student meant I had to sit and eat my dishes alone, we had some interesting conversations about life in Cambodia and she gave me lots of tips about how to recreate the food at home. I took a bit of everything back for Dave to try, and the following day we ate dinner at her restaurant. All of the food was really delicious and her spring rolls tasted exactly the same as the ones I made!
|It didn't look like much from the outside...
|...but the open-plan roof kitchen was lovely
|Chicken and banana flower salad with a (way too fishy)
fish sauce and chilli dressing
|Making spring rolls - in Cambodia they use pork, onion, carrot
and grated taro. Simple, but oh so delicious
|Beautifully crisp on the outside and wonderfully creamy inside
|Steaming my fish amok in my home made banana leaf bowl
|The fried bananas, in a light, black sesame batter
Costs (per person)
Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville Bus = $5 (£3.30)
Sihanoukville Hotel Double AC per room = $13.50 (£9)
Cooking Class = $25 (£17)
Sihanoukville to Siem Reap Bus = $10 (£7)