Tourist town and great beaches...

Trip Start Feb 28, 2012
Trip End Nov 22, 2012

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What I did
otres beach

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Sunday, April 15, 2012

On arrival in Sihanoukville I go to a guesthouse I saw in the local guide which offers rooms at $6 plus free bicycle and on arrival the room is nice but of all the four bikes, not ones doesn't have a flat tyre as I find after taking one, getting the tyre pumped up about a mile away and it just going straight back down again. But I found the bike I told you about from the Italian guy and cycled down to the furthest beach called Otres beach which was supposed to be, and was, quieter and less touristy but it already starts getting dark by the time im ready to set off back and so, with no lights, and on bumpy dirt roads, the journey back is in pitch black and pretty hair raising, especially when I get to the normal tarmacced main road and only have my small flashing light in hand to show any other drivers I am on the road but because motorbikes drive down the wrong way of the road too I have to hold it faced down lashing so anyone behind and in front can see hopefully but this means I have zero field of vision in front and if anything was coming or even parked I simply wouldn’t see it and although I was lucky that no one drove head on, there was one parked motorbike which I only saw from the faint light of a nearby house… but after about an hour I get the bike back to the Italian and home to the hotel soon after but I found a cheap beach front shack for $5 so decide that after 2 days to move down there which I did next day but the room was just off the beach but as already mentioned the ants were a nightmare and plus in the middle of the night I found a huge bug inside the mozzy net and I lost it so just had to sleep with it the whole night but next day I decided not to try the dorm as I found an ad for another guesthouse downtown which was $3 and $3 to hire their motorbike so only $1 more but a bug free better room and I could bike all over the place and have an explore too so next day that’s what I did.

Next day on the bike I drove round most of the town and whilst you have to be mega aware every second on the bike as people drive in all directions and all sides of the roads but I find if you just drive slow and to the road edge its all OK and the only real rules seem to be to beep as you pass someone and and vehicle bigger than you has right of way by sheer size and the fact it would win should you challenge but even traffic lights don’t seem to matter and at some junctions some people will stop on red but some will just go through and at others everyone just goes through but I find if you just follow the people around you it’s the safest option. One place I want to go see is a fishing village about 25 km up the coast so I go and literally after the end of the last tourist beach and I feel like I am the only westerner to ever go to the fishing port and the route to it, now I know I am not but it really felt like that, with the usual attention and great reaction every time I would nod or say hello on my way. On the way back the sun is just setting and so I try make it to this monument which is right up on hill, though they call it a mountain here, and I make it just in time but only to find that trees block the actual sunset but again I got some good photos but whilst there I was again cornered by a group of dogs but managed to get nearer to talk to a couple of monks who I think knew my dilemma and helped get rid of them but its easy when they are your dogs!!

So I am just here, spending time on the beach, actually eating some seafood for a change and some western food too as its mainly burgers, chips and pizza’s round by the beach and that’s where I am staying now, just off the main tourist beach. I NEED TO ORGANISE MY Vietnam visa on Monday and head off on the 27th and I am entering Vietnam right on the southern tip where there is apparently a large island called Qu Doc I think and is meant to be very beautiful and then its up towards Ho Chi Min City to try buy my bike and head up through the country. I have spoken to a couple of people who have told me some good routes and also that, like here, if your careful then the roads are OK and well worth doing as opposed to the trains and buses.

I know theres lots I have missed out but one that I have been meaning to mention is one thing I have seen about 3 or 4 times now and that is people on motorcycles holding there own, now I think it’s a saline solution bag, you know from the hospital the liquid on the bag which they run in through a tube in to your bloodstream… cant think of the name now but I don’t know how the health care thing works out here but I am guessing most cant afford but when they have to go to hospital certainly have to make their own way back whatever state they are in and the other day I saw another example, a man driving a bike with a small girl of about 5 in the middle in just a nappy and a woman, probably the mum, sat behind holding the bag up in the air behind. Also, I have spoken with a number of Cambodians about being Cambodian and what they think of westerners and basically, and I guess they are right, we are rich and whenever they beg or try to sell things to you they take it personally when you say no sometimes as though you have money to burn and are being tight but they often lose face when you decline to buy a bracelet or even have a pedicure on the beach!? But also the stories of how poor it is here and what a lot have been through is very humbling and certainly makes you realize how lucky you are with the healthcare, education and general social well being we are used to, none of which they have here and have to work and do anything to survive. Its very humbling to be around from seeing street kids walking round with huge sacks looking for empty cans and water bottles for recycling to the many limbless beggers who drag themselves around the beach on whatever they can find to keep the heat of the sand off them just to lower themselves to beg for whatever small change you have and I never give more than 500 or 1000 riel to any one person, the latter being only 25 cents, that’s about 15p (though sometimes i do give a dollar) but they are eternally grateful even for that, and no surprise really as they seem to be mostly ignored but also just a couple of thousand will buy them a meal for the day so even thought I only give up to a dollar a day whereas it certainly never feels enough I know that in reality it does make a small difference to that person in that given moment… the other day on the beach I had all my factor 30 sunblock I had bought in the Uk and now don’t use as I have gone on to some factor 20’s and am now starting to brown but whilst sunbathing one of the many woman, who work on the beach offering everything from massages to nail painting, was sat trying to persuade me to have my nails cleaned up and skin around my nails removed but in a very friendly way and even giving me a free sample on one finger but there was a young girl who had a bag for collecting old cans, she must have been about 7, really dirty clothes and face and hair too but she just sat staring and smiling and I remembered the sunblock which I had actually out in my bag to try and trade for some factor 20’s somewhere and so I gave her them and explained to the woman doing my nail who spoke some English to tell her to sell them and maybe get 5 or 6 dollars each as new they were about 12 and the girl just put them in the bag with the cans smiled, got up and went off again  picking up the cans and I don’t even think she realized what they were I had given her – she probably thought they were empty for recycling! But that same day I saw in a local guesthouse that they take in all things tourists no longer need, like suncream or clothes and also medications and they redistribute them through the right channels to places and people that need them which I thought was really great…

Its hard to believe that 2 months is almost up and it feels like its going quickly. I am looking forward to VIETNAM AND I AM STARTING RIGHT BY getting a language DVD in next couple of days to learn some Vietnamese before I get there this time and plus I have got everything I need now and have even started doing my own washing now to try cut back a bit on cost and also bought a hammock to use whenever I need a break from the biking! So that’s me pretty much up to date and ill try get all the images up when I can…. i hope your all well and despite enjoying my trip I am missing you all…x
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