A Weekend In Sihanoukville

This weekend we decided to escape the Phnom Penh city life and take a road trip to Sihanoukville – Cambodia’s most popular beach destination. It was great to get away from the hustle-bustle, traffic, dirt, piss, and all the other bullshit that goes along with living in a big city. Living in a big city is teaching me I’m a small town guy at heart. I like visiting big cities, but for everyday living I prefer a small town. And when I say small town I mean anywhere between 10 and 150,000 people. That’s my population comfort zone. Phnom Penh’s population is 2.5 million, so, yeah. Not huge, but too big for my liking.

You may be thinking, oh a road trip to the beach, that sounds like a fun adventure. It is! But one thing I’ve learned about Asia is that everything I do here is an adventure. Going to the bank is an adventure. So, a trip to the beach isn’t so much a single adventure, more like chapters of adventures combined into one big adventure story book. At the end of it all, you feel mesmerized, confused, and alive. Hey, that’s the same emotions I felt after reading 50 Shades of Grey. Is E.L. James Asian?

Weekend in Sihanoukville – Table of Contents

  1. Friday Afternoon Moto Bike Ride To Pick Up Alana At School
    1. I desperately wanted to take a selfie of myself riding on the back of this random Cambodian’s moto, but I really didn’t want to be the guy who inspires the headline Idiot Dies While Taking Selfie In Moto Bike Crash. It was an exhilarating adventure, nonetheless. I had 3 bags hanging off me (my bag, Alana’s, and our friend’s), holding my phone in my left hand with Google Maps opened shouting directions as we zipped along. The driver didn’t speak English of course, which made the commute extra fun. With my right hand, I held closely the Cambodian drivers waist. ha! Just kidding – I held the bar on the side of the bike and tried not to fall off. Make no mistake, this was not safe. Nothing about transportation in South East Asia is.
  2. 6 Hour Bus Ride To Sihanoukville  
    1. map
      Our route, from PP to SV. SV lies in South Cambodia, along the Gulf of Thailand.
    2. This ride was surprisingly quite pleasant. I was expecting the worst. The Bus was big and roomy, and Alana surprised me with Pringles and Angkor beer. I downloaded a few hours of podcast episodes, plugged in my headphones, and off we went.
    3. bus-beers
  3. Arrival
    1. We rented a cute little hut at Otres Orchid, on Otres Beach. We didn’t arrive until Friday at midnight, so there wasn’t much to do besides head to bed and wait for morning to come. There was a techno bar directly across the street from us blasting dance music until 7AM. I didn’t mind. Sihanoukville is known to be a party place with lots of very liberal 20 and 30-something backpackers, easy access to drugs, and cheap women. I discovered these rumors were all 100% true.
  4. Beach Day
    1. Otres Beach was awesome. It was a small beach, but not too crowded with tourists. Just right.
    2. otres-beach
  5. Bryan and Alana Argue
    1. Alana wants to move to the beach, permanently. I suggest this is a ridiculous idea. My stance: the beach is a great place to visit, but after 3 days I’m ready to leave. Sand over everything, all the time. Gross. I also despise sunblock and having to apply and re-apply the shit constantly, else risk burning in hell. Plus I don’t mind mixing and mingling with the hippie-folk from time to time, but that’s not who I am. I don’t even like doing drugs, or loud music, or tattoos, or long shaggy hair. I enjoy bathing once daily. These people are lots of fun though, and are not judgy (like I clearly am), and are of course super-laid back. At one pub, the sign outside read ‘leave your ego at the door’. “No thanks,” I replied. I prefer to carry mine with me at all times. A guy at the table next to us smoked bottle tokes while we ate breakfast. Our server, a skinny Brit, was both stoned and hungover. Something about him made me laugh. Probably because he was so clearly stoned and hungover. He’d walk from the cooking area, down to the beach shouting “yeah, who ordered the toast and eggs benny? Where the fuck did they go? Oh, there you are.” I also appreciate an authentic British accent. “Here’s your porridge, mate,” he said, delivering my breakfast. At this point we were only 2 hours into the day, so Alana wasn’t backing down on her proposition to move here full-time. She tends to resent me and thinks I’m boring because I’m not adventurous enough to make such a decision. I would argue there is a difference between being adventurous and being completely out of your fucking mind.  Luckily our friend was there to play referee.
    2. Oh, by the way, travelling with 3 people is a great way to travel if you’re in a relationship. The 3rd person serves as a grocery stick between you and your partner keeping you civil during disagreements. Plus, if you want some alone time by yourself, your partner and the 3rd person can head off somewhere else, no problem a’tall. I took advantage of this. While Alana and our friend lay on the beach sun-tanning, an activity I had no interest in whatsoever, I went for a walk by myself, taking pictures along the way.
    3. Anyway, that’s my travel tip for the day: the best way to travel is to travel alone. No debating that. The second best way, however (if you’re a couple), is to travel in a group of 3, bringing along a single friend. All 3 of you will have a blast. Traveling as a couple is also fun, don’t get me wrong. Still, the 3 headed travel monster is something most people don’t even consider – but, there’s tremendous value and enjoyment in that approach. Think outside the box!
  6. Exploring The Beach
    1. otres-beach-road
      The beach road at Otres Beach, Sihanoukville.
    2. greenhouse-effect
      Oh, books! They know how to lure me in.
  7. Saturday Night Sunset. Probably The Highlight of the Trip
    1. alana-bryan-otres-beach-sunset
      The Gulf of Thailand at sundown.
  8.  Sunburn
    1. We all got burned, but Alana’s was the worst.
  9. Alana Agrees It Is Not A Good Idea To Move To The Beach
    1. Apologizes for resenting me. Tells me she loves me.
    2. “You fucking better,” I reply.
    3. haha. Just kidding, I stole that from The Sopranos.
  10. Sunday Afternoon: Bus Back To Phnom Penh
    1. Jesus Christ. We bought our bus tickets from a random guy on the beach selling sunglasses. We gave him the money up-front. How could we be so stupid? I thought for sure we’d been scammed. But, to our surprise (and relief) the guy actually showed up, granted, an hour late. This bus was a shit-show. Small, crammed, and dirty. There was garbage everywhere. The driver apologized and explained they were running late and didn’t have time to clean it. I shook it off pretty quick. I felt like this was an authentic Cambodian experience, and I was in no position to complain. All the passengers on the bus were Cambodian locals – probably heading to the city for work the next day. I bought a tin of nuts and settled in for 6 hours of podcast listening.♦



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