The Serendipity of Motorbikes and Beaches

Trip Start Oct 04, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Thursday, March 9, 2006

Leaving Lee in Phnom Penh to deal with visa stuff, Steve and I headed for the beach and much needed relaxation. As soon as I stepped off the hot, stuffy bus and out into the sea breeze I knew that this was going to be a great couple of days. We soon found ourselves at a guesthouse with a nice little terrace restaurant right in front of Serendipity Beach. Funny how that word keeps popping up at different phases of my life. But, really, serendipity was happening everywhere. That night, after the requist couple hours of sunbathing and floating we decided to take a walk down the beach to check out the string of restaurants and bars we had noticed earlier that day. I think we both somewhat expected to find backpacker bars blasting Marley or the usual mix of two year old hip hop songs while twentysomethings in dreds, swimsuits, and fisherman pants drunkenly jiggled their way aroud the dance floor. Afterall, so far this had pretty much been the scene at any time of beachy place I'd been in Asia so far. But it was amazing, no one was out! I guess it sort of hit me then that we were truly off the beaten path, and it felt great. We decided on a bar/restaurant that was "packed" with about five people playing pool - after all we didn't want to be the absolute ONLY people in the place. We ended up sitting at a low table in beach chairs, the tide coming up and licking at our feet, enjoying dishes of ginger chicken (me) and seafood noodles (Steve) while bad music that surprisingly fit the mood played in the background. I read in my travel book about a place they described as "blissed out nothingness" and while that isn't exactly Sihanoukville, that's how I felt at that moment. So glad to have happened upon our little piece of bliss, we decided that returning the next night was a must.

The next day we went out to our Serendipity beach that had been so deserted the day before and found ourselves looking out on a sea...of people! The entire beach was jampacked with Cambodians enjoying Women's Day, which I think is an absolutely fabulous idea for a holiday, that is basically meant to raise awareness (as far as I could gather) about domestic violence. As our new friend, a little girl selling fruit and trying to "wax" my legs with a piece of string, told us, it was a day that if you hurt a girl you were in big trouble and would go to jail. So though we both definitely supported the holiday, we decided to try going further afield. Steve, super motorcycle guy that he is, suggested that we rent a bike and go exploring. So off we went, dodging potholes and other bikes, to see what Sihanoukville was all about. That took about half an hour or so, not that impressive of a town really, but then we went the other way down the street out past all the development. A couple times we thought we should turn back thinking that white people were unofficially not allowed in certain areas or that the road ended, but we kept going. Past the partiers, past the family outings, past the resort, over the peninsula, down a scarily steep hill, and along a road that turned to red dust we finally found it. Serendipity again! Here was a beach, an amazingly long stretch of sand with clear blue waters and beautiful views of the islands, completely deserted. It was incredible and we laughed at our good luck. This is what we came here for, this was truly "blissed out nothingness"! Unfortunately it was getting to be the later afternoon and we didn't want to attempt our journey back in the dark, so after an hour we started to tear ourselves away, drying off and packing things up. But as I turned around to get one last picture of what we were now referring to as "Our Beach", there in the viewfinder were cows! Yes, cows! Walking along the beach. And not just one cow, an entire herd, all headed towards us. I couldn't believe it! Only in Cambodia would a day at the beach end with a herd of cows! Still laughing with the image of more cows being on the beach than people, we hopped back on the bike to see how far we could ride on the beach before being forced up onto the road. That night being Lee's birthday, who had since caught the bus down to meet us, we took him to our favorite spot from the night before. This time we lounged on a raised platform and Jack Johnson was playing, but it just wasn't the same. I guess moments like that can't be repeated no matter how much we try. This morning Steve and I once again took the motorbike down to "Our Beach" and though the sun was shining and it was perhaps even more lovely than the day before and we still had a great time, it still wasn't as good as our first serendipitous experience with it. Again, we had to cut our stay short because Steve had to catch the bus back up to Phnom Penh. We saw our friendly cows beside the road on the way back and I waved to them while Steve mooed. And suddenly it was time to say goodbye to Steve, who had been my travel companion for week, which in backpacker terms is a very long time. And though it was sad, we met serendipitously and together discovered things serendipitously, so I'm sure we'll serendipitously run into each other again...especially since we'll be in Poland at the same time (for my birthday!). But that's besides the point. It's all about the Serendipity!
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