Sihanoukville: Above the sea

Lazy.Tropical.Isolated.

Our time in Sihanoukville was spilt into two sections, the first being on the mainland and the second on an island about an hour off the coast. When in Koh Kong we pre-booked a place to stay in Sihanoukville called ‘backpacker heaven’, which turned out to be one of the best places we’ve stayed in so far. We had a huge clean room with ensuite and balcony! Plus we got a free beer on arrival… well i did, Chris is still refraining from beer. Maybe if they’d have given free Carnation he’d of been happier.

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We got settled in and set out to explore our new surroundings, which left us a bit dissapointed. The nearby Victory beach had been massively over-developed meaning much of the beach was just concrete slabs with sand and deckchairs on them for those staying in the hotels. The view out wasn’t the best either, with more concrete to look at in the form of a gigantic bridge linking to a nearby island and a concrete pier. Concrete galore! In the hope of finding something more inspiring we rented a motorbike and set off driving. First we came across Independence Beach where our highlight was finding out that if we walked on the sand in a certain way it made a noise that sounded like a seal! Some may say we’re easily amused. In contrast to Victory Beach we found that we really liked the development near to Independence beach. There were rendered little bungalows with thatched roofs and private balconys floating above the sea. Our Backpacker Heaven didn’t seem quite so fancy anymore! From here we headed to the backpacker area of Serendipity, only it took us a little longer than expected as the bike completely ran out of fuel. If only i’d have gotten a photo of Chris pushing the bike up hill to the petrol station. The upside of this was that the petrol station gave out free biscuits! We eventually made it to Serendipity where we were greeted with a Magaluf-esque assortment of bars, restaurants, promo-girls and tattoo shops. We got a bite to eat there then called it a day.

The following day we headed to Phsar Leu Market where we ate some cheap and tasty food (rice and noodles of course!) After purchasing some fresh pineapple and baked goods we headed to Otres beach which we were told was the nicest in the area. It didn’t dissapoint. We found our hammocks and headed straight into the warm sea. Chris has a stroll down the beach afterwards and found us a beach ball whilst i caught some more rays. Intrigued by the concrete bridge we saw to the nearby island the day before we set off in search of said bridge to investigate. We drove around for ages trying to find this huge ugly bridge! For the life of us we couldn’t find it. When we eventually came across it we found it was shut! A 900 meter monster bridge that nobody can get across. It seemed so odd, so we did some research and found out that a big Russian investor has purchased the island and is going to build a casino resort on it, so until then I suppose nobody is getting across. Maybe next time! The rest of the afternoon was spent playing volleyball/ keepy-uppy outside our guesthouse with our new beach ball.

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We’d booked an island tour for the next day, so after having breakfast we got picked up and taken to a restaurant where we found out that we got breakfast included in the price of our trip. Two breakfasts for us! The day consisted of the boat driving to three of the twelve islands off the coast of Sihanoukville, stopping off the coast of two for snorkelling and stopping on shore at one for lunch.
The first snorkel pitstop arrived… right underneath the boat! Which it seemed was common place as there were two or three other boats sitting right on top of the coral. As you can imagine, because of this the snorkelling here wasn’t great. It was clinging onto life and there wasn’t much presence of fish or other interesting things. Which was dissapointing.
The boat stopped about 20metres away from the beach at stop number two meaning we had a little swim to get us on the shore. It was a beautiful little island with crystal clear waters and white sands, almost untouched by any development. A few hours were spent here, in the sea and then in a hammock. A huge fish and rice lunch was served here and it was delish!
Back on the boat our final stop of the day lead to more dissapointment. We arrived at a little island covered in dense forests. The boat yet again positioned itself atop of the coral we were supposed to be snorkelling around. As we all prepared to jump in we could see a thick layer of fuel emerging from under the boat and sitting on the water blocking any view of the underlying coral. To add insult to injury, whoever owned the island had wiped out huge chunks of the reef to make way for a concrete jetty. So the already dying coral won’t last much longer with all the boats going over it to get to the jetty. It’s such a shame. We’re hoping not all our snorkelling experiences will be like this!

Back on the mainland we spent the rest of the day sipping cocktails on the beach. As the night drew in the others sat drinking their cocktails on the beach had bought fireworks and Chinese lanterns to set off. It was all very pretty.

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After a very queezy boat ride to the island of Koh Rong Saloem we were greeted by an amazing desert like island. The whitest sands, the thickest forests and the clearest waters. The most beautiful place. We found our place to stay, appropriately named ‘the beach’, just 5 minutes walk down the beach! Although we had a dorm and not our own beach bungalow it didn’t matter one bit as we could still hear the sea from our bed in the mornings.

That day we got acquainted with the island, strolling down Saracen Bay and at times it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We found a nice swing to lie on for a while before we headed into the jungle! You can walk from one side of the island to the other through this thick jungle known to be full of hornbills, macaque monkeys and black squirrels. All of which we saw on this first walk through the jungle, which we did barefoot. Unwisely. It was so amazing, one of Chris’ highlights so far. It felt like we were on a proper uninhabited island and we’d stumbled across this jungle, buzzing with the sound of insects and bird calls, draped in vines and scattered with colourful leaves. When we reached the other side of the island the sun was setting on yet another beautiful beach. This stunning day ended with us star gazing on the beach, the stars look so close here. Endless beauty!

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Still amazed by our jungle experience the previous day we set out on another jungle walk the following day to another beach on the other side of the island. This one was a bit tougher, as we climbed up and over the top of the island as apposed to through it. It was a lot rockier and the trail wasn’t as well trodden. The scenery was great but we saw no wildlife this time. On the other side of the island… You guessed it, another amazing beach! We grabbed a drink and rented a snorkel. Chris explored first, reporting back that he saw loads of fish, a squid and colourful coral. I couldn’t get to grips with the snorkel, so only saw rocks. Better luck next time! The evening was spent eating a feast of BBQ food prepared in front of us on the beach and yet more star gazing. We saw something which Chris tells me might have been the space station passing through the sky!

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As we waited for the boat to arrive the next day to take us back to the mainland we sat in a treehouse looking over the beach, soaking up all that we could before we left this tranquil place. Thankfully the boat back wasn’t as queezy as the one there. Next up, we travel the short journey to Kampot!

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Photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk7hao2B

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3 thoughts on “Sihanoukville: Above the sea

  1. Wonderful photos, you are certainly having a fantastic range of experiences, the island sounds like paradise. I love the log swing, I’d happily spend a day or two there. Pity the locals haven’t fully embraced conservation yet. Hope they don’t do too much damage to the coral.
    Take care
    Mum x

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  2. Dear Sarah and Chris sitting enjoying reading your Blogg again and again. The sunsets are stunning, I love your video of the Horn bill even short takes of the breathtaking beaches are items you can edit and use later adding sounds,
    The beaches look like paradise no one there they have a real dimension of serenity I want to go! I think we all want to go!

    Lots of love from us all here take care
    Mum

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