getting to Sihanouk Ville

Posted from Krong Preah Sihanouk, Cambodia.

I booked my ticket to Sihanouk Ville the day before I intended to leave Phnom Penh. I had no clue how important this was until I got on the entirely full bus. And I was sitting at the back. Again, assigned seating. So I’m guessing I got one of the last tickets. It was a $7 ride for the five-hour trip. They say it’s four hours, but nothing in this country is accurate, especially prices.

I woke at 6:45 a.m. and packed up my things. I debated having breakfast, but after far too many beers the night before I forwent the meal. I ignored the guy at the desk and the tuktuk drivers and motorbike drivers who wanted to charge me $1 to $2 to take me the 1.5km to the bus station, a distance I could easily walk. So I started venturing out. About two blocks in an older gentleman said he would charge me 50 cents to go to the station. I couldn’t argue with logic, so I got on. This, of course, got me to the station a little ahead of my 7:45 a.m. boarding call. I used the time to people watch.

The chaos is becoming more normal to me everyday.

The chaos is becoming more normal to me everyday.

The bus station is about the same as any biggish-small city, except that there’s food everywhere. Food. Food. Food. There was a spiral staircase leading to a food stand on top of the bus kiosk. I thought about getting food, but my stomach just wasn’t ready yet.

I watched as people helped load large packages through bus windows, or how young women in high heels got special treatment. I watched young children cling to their mother’s arms and other foreigners with expectant faces hoping they didn’t miss the call for their bus. The nice part is they post the signs in English too – a sign of rising tourism.

The ride was very uneventful, apart from having to take another ½ Gravol – the back of the bus is always more bumpy, but what I did like was the terrain was beginning to get hilly. It’s been flat for as long as I can remember. Well, two weeks, really.

When the bus got to Sihanouk Ville we were all swarmed by tuktuk drivers. The bus company provides a free bus to the beaches area of the town, but I didn’t know where to find it. Using deductive reasoning, I found someone who worked for the bus company and he pointed me to the bus across the parking lot. Yay! Swarmed again by tuktuk drivers while crossing the parking lot. Damn. I’ve read there’s a bit of a tuktuk mafia here and some of the shrewdest price-fixing in Cambodia.

After I got off the bus I started to walk with a Dutch girl who was sitting next me. An English couple noticed our puzzled looks and came to our rescue, pointing us in the correct direction to the backpackers. Tuktuk drivers continued to ask and ask and ask us if we want a ride. I guess that’s all they can do.

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After a few tries I found a place with a single room for $8 a night at GBT. It had dirty walls, decrepit furniture, a cold shower, a lousy TV, stained sheets and a dusty fan. I could’ve paid about $3 for a dorm bed up the road, but I figured for tonight I wanted some privacy. And I was leaving early in the morning to get on a boat to go to the island Koh Rong so I wanted to sleep well. Which would’ve gone wonderfully if it weren’t for the Russian next door making phone calls at 2:30 a.m.

Not the worst place I've stayed. At least GBT didn't have bed bugs.

Not the worst place I’ve stayed. At least GBT didn’t have bed bugs.

I put my stuff in the room, changed into a skirt and tank top and headed out to the beach. I love the beach. I miss the beach. I am a beach-girl at heart, through and through. As much as I like exploring the cities and seeing the different cultures of southeast Asia, I would be perfectly content just chilling on a beach for all five months.

The beach area is filled to the brim with tourists. Swimmers have been killed by passing boats and jet-skiers who don't pay attention.

The beach area is filled to the brim with tourists. Swimmers have been killed by passing boats and jet-skiers who don’t pay attention.

While strolling down the beach I ran into Louise, the girl I met whilst crossing the Thai/Cambodian border. We caught up on our journeys and she told me about how dangerous the area is and how I shouldn’t be on the beach at night or go walking around alone at night. Upon further investigation I have found that there are warnings about local residents, some tweakers, who have attacked, robbed or in some cases raped tourists. No problem. I had no plans but to write, chill and drink water in my room before I went to bed early. I’m pooped.

Tomorrow I catch a boat to Koh Rong – an island some say is the last of the unspoiled beaches of Asia.

 

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