This time, instead of Jamie’s alarm clock waking me up, it was the man himself. Dam you Jamie Bliss. 7:20am was the time and in an hour we were to be picked up via minibus and taken to the bus stop. After a quick breakfast, game of pool and Sarah playing with the fluffy puppy, we were on our way. Ten minutes later (after worming through traffic) we were dropped off at the end of a street. Unsure of where we were, or what was going on, the driver told us we had to wait and a bus would arrive shortly. True to his word a bus did arrive 5 minutes later, we handed over our bags and hopped aboard for a four to five hour journey. For the most part I worked on my blog, and with what time remained I dived back into my book. When we arrived it was getting on for two o’clock.
Like usual there was a large group of tuktuk drivers waiting to take us anywhere. From our experiences, most of them only want to rip you off and will take advantage of your wallet given the opportunity. Not here. In Cambodia they all seem pretty decent, and you feel bad when you try and haggle the fare from $2 a person to $1. Our driver was very friendly, yet I still found it annoying that they plague you before you collect your bags from the undercarriage. Seeing as we didn’t have any accommodation, we asked the driver if he’d mind taking us to the backpacker area. He agreed, and before taking off his young son hopped aboard. He couldn’t have been any older than 5. The driver obviously got commission if he could convince backpackers (or anyone for that matter) to stay at the place he took us to. Not wanting to pay $20 for a room we were then offered it for $15.
Feeling as though the place was too far out of the way, we got him to drive us around until we found somewhere better. The whole time I remained in the tuktuk while Jamie and Sarah got out to explore at each stop. The first one was too smelly (because people we’re smoking pot). The next one was fully booked. The third one was quite pricey, but the fourth one was juuuuuust right. It just so happened to be the one we visited first for $15 a night. After apologising to the tuktuk driver for messing him around we got out and checked in. Presumably he got his commission too.
We stayed in the room for as long as it took to get changed and dump our bags. We then explored the local beach. We were quite hungry by that point, so decided to eat at the little beach side shack directly opposite our guesthouse. Despite the irritation caused by countless flies it was actually quite enjoyable. We made friends with a friendly 19 year old Cambodian girl named Aiya. She was jealous of Jamie because she wanted his Scottish white skin. To avoid getting a tan she was wearing jeans, long sleeved top and a cardigan. While we were waiting for our food she was chatting with Sarah about beauty tips, all the while trying to sell her a pedicure/ manicure. In the end she made Sarah a free anklet, and talked her into getting her legs threaded. Jamie and I had never heard of this torture treatment before, and for any guys reading this who are also unsure, it’s basically hair removal using a piece of thread. Looking like it was painless, and still not clear on how it worked, Sarah told Aiya to try it on my leg. I’ll tell you this for free, it stung. I now have a bald spot on my left shin, which apparently won’t grow back for a while because the follicles were pulled out. When our food eventually arrived we wolfed it down, while doing battle against the ever intruding flies. It was also quite fun to watch Sarah attempt to eat her tuna baguette while having her leg hair ripped out. After food we went to the beach.
We were very surprised at the temperature of the sea, it was warm. The only factor that spoiled it was the amount of rubbish on the beach. It varied from food wrappers to broken bottles. We thought we’d take a stroll along the sands to see if we could find a cleaner spot, unfortunately it just got worse. We gave up in the end and settled for a spot which was moderately clean. After putting our towels down we got in the sea. We stayed in the shallows for an hour or so before calling it a day. On our walk back we were treated to a view of the setting sun. It transformed the sky to a beautiful shade of pinky purple, and the way the sun danced across the ocean was equally as pretty. Back in the room we took it in turns to shower, but unfortunately the water was very temperamental. When we asked the staff why the water wasn’t working they gave us the usual scape goat answer “give it five minutes.”
Everything seems to be five minutes, it’s as if they think you’ll forget your issue and won’t pester them again. Sarah and I stayed in the room for an hour or so while she skyped her dad. Jamie was at the restaurant of the guesthouse eating some dinner, enjoying a beer and reading the latest news. When we joined him we discovered that another tourist had been attacked on one of the islands of Thailand. Sadly the 23 year old lost his life after being hit in the back by a stray bullet, so our thoughts go out to his friends and family. According to reports this was the 7th case of a tourist being attacked over a certain period of time. Because the islands of Thailand are so beautiful the report wouldn’t deter us from visiting (yes mum, I’ll go careful).
After Jamie paid for his meal the three of us hit the town for some food. We hired a tuktuk to drive us 2 miles up the road and drop us off outside the nearest bar. At night it really came to life in Sihanouk Ville. There were people all over the place, from tourists to bar reps. At points it kind of reminded me of Ibiza. We strolled up and down the road looking for somewhere to eat but were distracted by places offering diving courses. We enquired in a couple of them, but the price seemed pretty common throughout, around $320. Not sure if I wanted to spend that kind of money on something I’d only be using whilst travelling, I decided to leave and think about it. We then discovered a hostel selling cheap transport and accommodation to/on one of the islands, Koh Rong. This was where Liam had said was best for diving (if we were to do it). We booked something for the 5th of January then went about finding food. A short walk back up the hill we chose a Greek restaurant. I don’t think I’d ever eaten Greek food before, but when I was finished I didn’t know why. It was amazing. We settled the bill, then made that famous decision to go out “for one drink!”
During the walk to the first bar we passed a couple of reps for the fourth time that night, once again they tried giving us an additional pamphlet for their bar. The first bar we reached was very busy and had fire dancers for entertainment. They must have practised for a long time to be as good as they were, one of them was a bit cocky too. He knew all the women found it impressive, shame he didn’t get a little singe to put him in his place. Faster and faster they’d spin the fire baton, throwing it into the air to pass it to each other, before blowing it out and returning to the bar to mingle with ladies. We bumped into Steve (the Irish guy we met in Ho Chi Minh) while we were there. When he came over to talk with us the first thing I noticed was how polar opposite he was to Liam. If Liam had been at the bar no doubt he’d have jumped in with the fire dancers, much like he did the crocodiles. Jamie, Sarah and I took it in turns to buy rounds (each one coming to $3, what a rip off huh?) before joining Steve and his friend on a bar crawl.
We stayed out for quite a few hours, visiting a total of three different bars. At the end of the night I was very impressed, for the first time ever Sarah had kept up with us drink for drink. The pair of us then returned to our hotel, leaving Jamie and Steve to it. On the walk to find a tuktuk I lifted a local boy high into the air when he was blown away by my height. He then said “piggy back, piggy back” to which I obliged, only he climbed up on to my shoulders instead. I only walked a few feet, out of fear that I might drop him, all the while he was cheering in excitement. He was quick to climb down when I knelt down, and ran off into the night laughing (with my wallet in tow…. Just kidding). Sarah and I then found a tuktuk to take us back. On reflection that was probably the cheapest bar crawl I had ever done in my life, with the grand total coming to $5, at most!