“After a pretty awful border crossing thanks to the lads who tried to rob us on the Thai side, we made it to immigration, paid the $20 for our visa, got through, only to join an even longer queue. After about an hour we made it through and hopped on a shuttle bus to the local bus station. After being told we would have to wait an hour until the bus left, we decided to leave along with our Australian mate Sam on our own bat. We legged it outside and found a random lad Ant who offered to drive us for 2 hours to Siem Reap for $28…bargain. The drive itself flew in and Ant shared some info about daily life in Cambodia. Perhaps he went a little far when he mentioned what he liked to do on a Friday night with his week’s wages. Best not get into that!
Ant dropped the 4 of us off on Pub Street, which does exactly what it says on the tin, at about 8pm. We quickly found a hotel, dumped the bags and grabbed some food having eaten nothing all day. After dinner we went for a couple of alcoholic beverages but nothing too wild as we were all shattered following the long day travelling.
We were up and checked out by 11 the next day and on the road to Phnom Penh. We were told the journey itself would be 4 and half hours but ended up being a horrible 7 hour journey in a cooped up minivan. We were absolutely raging! Cooled off a bit, we grabbed a tuk tuk and headed towards our hostel which was due to be in the lovely area of Lakeside if the city. Unfortunately we hadn’t know that the government drained the lake a year ago and thus tourism had died in the area. So we were staying in a hostel, with pushy workers who wanted to sell us trips the following day. Not taking no for an answer we had to retire to the room for the night.
We grabbed the tuk tuk back to city for some lunch and then headed off to evening markets, for some purchases and back to the ranch for some dinner and chillaxing in the hostel. We also noticed in this city the amount of dirty old sex tourists on every corner. Men about 50-60 years old sitting having dinner with 3-4 local girls, who God only knows what age they are.
After enough depression for another day we swung by the Central Market to pick up Sam, got our bags in the hostel and rented a minivan to drive us 4 hours to Sianhoukville, which is a party town in the south, better known as Sinville. En route we picked up our friend Gough who had flown into the city and we were on the road with the aim of getting there just in time for a night out! We picked up some beers on the way and within no time the Westlife tunes were flowing!
We rolled into Sinville at about 10pm, checked into our hotel and got our glad rags on. It is also important to note that this was the first time we had our own private room in 11 months! Such a luxury. We grabbed a few beers and headed down the beach which was packed. After a few hours we got a tuk tuk to a music festival about 20 minutes away. Queue more tunes in the tuk tuk. The festival was serious craic and went on until the early hours!
We were up pretty late the following day as you can imagine, so just spent the day on the beach chillaxing and pigging out a little. On the beach are loads of little kids selling everything from sunglasses to bracelets. Honestly they are seriously intelligent kids. For every rebuff you have they have a comeback. “No, it’s ok, I don’t want one”…”Ok fine, then buy two”. Top lads! After the beach we headed for some diner to watch the football and then we were back on the tiles again, which was a little less packed than the previous night but just as much craic.
So we dropped off bikes and went to watch some more football before heading out again! Not much else to do in the town. At the first bar, I was pretty well stung when the lads nominated me to sing with the band playing. After much protest I had no choice so gave Wonderwall a whack. It went grand and got some free beer for my troubles. Work and travel…easier than it seems.
We were up early the next day as we booked the boat to Koh Rong which is an idyllic island about 2 hours away from Sinville and also because we needed some serious rehab! The boat across was seriously slow and we eventually arrived at about 4 in the evening. The island itself is beautiful but full of stoners which is not really our cup of Barry’s tea. We played football for an hour or so on the beach and then went for some dinner and a few scoops to unwind. We also went for a little night swim to see the infamous plankton which was quite an experience. They were literally glowing around you as you swam. We hit the hay hoping for a decent night sleep. How wrong we were!
We did a one hour trek to Long Beach which was actually quite tough in flip flop as we had to climb a hill and then descend some rocks absolutely sweating our arses off. We also had to avoid the many snakes that were said to reside in the jungle. No bother! Eventually we made it there as the sweatiest men alive. But it was worth it. One of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. It is about 8km long with only a handful of people dotted along it. We spent 4 hours chilling there and playing some football before getting a dodgy taxi boat back to the main port in the evening. Once there we played a game of football against the locals, which we won comprehensively, but who is keeping score right? Kev and I also equalled our headers record of 37 which impressed a couple of Canadians on the beach.
We arrived back at about 1pm and planned our stay for another 3 nights in the city of Sin (of Cambodia). We booked our bus for Vietnam in 3 days times so that meant we had to go to the Vietnamese Embassy to buy our visa for $60…bit steep! We headed along to the embassy only to be told we would have to wait for 2 days for it to be processed as they were nearly finished work for the day at 3.30pm. Grand. So with that news we returned to what we do best: playing football on the beach and then heading for a few scoops at night. But thank God we finally got a decent night sleep! The following day it was Sam’s birthday so we went on a booze cruise for the afternoon, stopping off on the way for a few cannon balls and tequilas. The cruise itself was about 4 hours and serious banter. Once back to the mainland, we watched some footy (we sound like hooligans on holiday) and then went out for the night. Sam thinks he had a good night.
Cambodia itself has been a real hidden gem on our trip. It’s a country with a very sad recent history which can be hard to comprehend but it is developing. For backpackers it is perfect: cheap, accessible, lots of partying and friendly/educated locals. Big thanks to all the cool people we met along the way, in particular Gough and Sam, who made the trip so memorable.
On the road again,