After 3 days in Siem Reap it was time to leave for Sihanoukville on the Cambodian coast. I had enjoyed my visit to Siem Reap but the mongering had been a failure, no pussy. Was looking forward to returning to Sihanoukville after an absence of 10 years.
Coach to Sihanoukville
On my first night in Siem Reap I had booked up a coach from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville for a total of $16. There are plenty of little travel kiosks off pub street.
I was in two minds if to stop off in Phnom Penh first and then head down to Sihanoukville? What decided it was there was currently no boat trips from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh down the Mekong. That would have been a cool journey and good photo opportunity. The other thing, once in Phnom Penh might get lazy and just stay put.
The plan was to fly back to Bangkok from Phnom Penh. I not fancy taking the ferry boat from Sihanoukville to Koh Kong and then to Trat in Thailand. Done that before a long and perilous journey. Sihanoukville has some type of airport but currently dont think much is flying out of there?
The assistant in the travel kiosk told me the bus would pick me up from the Shadow Angkor villa hotel at 7AM and the latest I would arrive in Sihanoukville was 5pm. Seemed like a long journey considering its a little over 500 kilometres away? Oh well this is Cambodia, still a third world country with little infrastructure outside of the main tourists centres.
Journey to Sihanoukville
So I am up early in the Shadow Angkor Villa hotel, 5am to pack my case and for my cooked breakfast.
Note a Tuk Tuk driver will take you to Angkor Wat like at 4:30AM in the morning to catch the sun rising over the temples. Too early for me.
A minibus turns up at 7AM and takes us to the coach station where we then start our journey to Sihanoukville. Lucky I had my internet radio through my mobile and local sim connection. You do not want to listen to Cambodian soap operas blasting out all day on the coach journey.
Out of Siem Reap and the road turns into a dirt track. Work in progress maybe from all those tourist dollars. From Siem Reap to Phnom Penh I saw one digger at work.
Every so often we would stop for some fuel and food and a break. Seems the cows wanted a top up too.
Another time we stopped just to clean the coach, yes it was very dirty after a couple of hours driving down a dirt track but we all want to get somewhere.
Eventually we arrive not in Sihanoukville but Phnom Penh. Its 4:30pm and we have to wait an hour in the Phnom Penh bus station to change coach.
Phnom Penh Arrival
Now I know it takes 4 hours from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville in a mini bus. I have done the journey before from Phnom Penh back in 2005. The assistant tells us we will arrive Sihanoukville around 8pm.
I get chatting to a frenchman on the coach and we buy a couple of warm cans of beer. He been travelling all his adult years basically, South America and now Asia. A musician, plays the piano in hotels etc, gets work that way and also does online translation from French to English and couple of other languages he knows. Spent 3 months in Siem Reap but prefers Sihanoukville so moving down that way permanently. Always interesting to learn how one funds a life on the road.
Eventually we board a new coach to Sihanoukville. This coach is larger, more leg room. We crawl out of Phnom Penh, rush hour traffic is pretty bad now in Phnom Penh. On the outskirts of Phnom Penh I notice some red lights and massage parlours, not geared to tourists.
The coach stops every half hour to drop people off and pick people up. Its not long and the coach is full. This is turning into the journey from hell. Will be lucky to arrive in Sihanoukville before 11pm at this rate.
Im starving now and we stop at a service station. I feel like something savoury and the frenchmen recommends the Cambodian meat dumplings and they are hot fresh and lovely, they do the trick.
Arrival Sihanoukville Downtown
At last we arrive in downtown Sihanoukville we now have to run the Gauntlet of getting a Tuk Tuk to our hotels. The frenchman is going in the other direction he has a hut on Otres Beach.
I am staying at the Harbour lights hotel on Victory Hill. Of course the Tuk Tuk driver not got a clue where the Harbour lights is. I share a Tuk Tuk with two Polish girls I had got friendly with on the coach and who were also staying on Victory Hill. We agree a combined price of $9.
It takes what seems like an age for first to find the Polish girls hotel and then eventually my hotel. Its near midnight now. The French owner of Harbour lights is waiting up for me and I briefly check into my room. Lovely room by the way and I then head up to Victory hill and the aptly named bar street for something to eat and some beers.
Stop off in a little bar on Victory hill and have a burnt pizza and a few beers. A fat Cambodian bar girl with acne keeps me company. What a day! Never again!
Stop off in Phnom Penh and dont believe a word the travel guide tell you in Siem Reap. I will complain to the mayor of Siem Reap.
Oh well I had arrived in Sihanoukville at last. The plan was to spend around 4 nights on Victory Hill and then move hotel and spend the remainder of my time in Sihanoukville on Ocheteaul beach. I had now lost one night on Victory Hill.