Our revving 100cc beasts brought us further to Sihanoukville. After a few intense days of riding on the dusty roads inland, we were ready to cool down in the sea. Sihanoukville, the only sea port of Cambodia is a booming modern city. We found a nice guesthouse at Otres, a beach located 10km west of the town. Our hosts invited us to join a feast lunch on the first day, on the occasion of a Chinese Buddhist holiday. The menu entailed a whole roasted pig, some other chicken noodle dishes, and enough cans of Angkor beer.
We dedicated the rest of the day to the beach; trying to film the quick tiny crabs, and played endlessly with three Cambodian kids, who were eager to pick up some English vocabulary and teach us Khmer in return.
Back in the beach vibe, we booked a “Three island snorkelling tour” for the following day. As it happens, the rainy season brought us quite some heavy rain and waves, and our boat ride on the sea felt like white water rafting, very cool. An older Chinese passenger sitting in front of us didn’t likely share our enthusiasm as the sea sickness got him. At the end of the day it wasn’t the snorkelling tour we expected, the sea water was cloudy and we did not see any fish at all. But still it was an adventurous day and against all odds, we got fairly sunburnt. 😉
Sihanoukville is already filled with tons of hotels, resorts, casinos and fancy restaurants which target rich Chinese people. Construction sites are all over the city, likely to bring new developments soon. Beside the Ferraris, Porches and Range Rovers, another thing caught our eye. An enormous bridge from mainland Sihanoukville, to the Snake Island.
We tried to cross the bridge, but unfortunately it was closed for visitors. Later that day we did some research, and found out that this bridge was a project by some Russian businessmen who bought the whole island. Their aim was to turn it into a private resort, but currently the construction is at halt, as one of the businessmen is under arrest for fraud in Russia, and the other one for child abuse in Cambodia…
After ten days of motorbiking, the inevitable happened: we got pulled over by the police. Two very friendly policemen asked in a calm voice and articulate English for our international driver’s license, and if we had any cigarettes. I thought I forgot my license in the bungalow, and asked them if I could pick it up. They said that wasn’t necessary, as long as we gave them some money. At that moment we only had bills of $50, as we just visited the bank. I found a $1 bill in my pocket, but this was not the amount they were looking for. When searching for another $2 in the backpack, I found my license. No problems at all, but the $1 I gave them, already disappeared in the officer’s pocket.
The next stop was Koh Rong Sanloem. After leaving our bikes at a “secure parking” in the port, we took a slow boat over the ocean. The rocking boat made many see sick again, luckily a lunch stop at Koh Rong let them fill their stomachs up… On the following journey to Sanloem, we unexpectedly did some snorkelling (finally saw some fish!), and then arrived on this beautiful paradise island. The first night we spent in Saracen bay, in this bungalow.
A small hike from the sea, about an hour through the jungle, to the other side of the island, we found an old lighthouse that now serves as a viewing point. Interesting to see were all the 50 Caliber machine guns that have been rusting away on the island since the time when Vietnam tried to invade the island.
As this bay was a bit out of our budget (25$ per night in the bungalow), we decided to move further up north, to the M’Pai Bai fishing village. After waiting for three hours for the supply boat that goes there, we hopped on together with Olina and Pu Long, who were also heading that way. Olina, a girl from the US with Cambodian ancestry, was visiting the country for the first time. Pu Long is a Cambodian university student, studying English to become a teacher, who showed Olina around. After a calm boat ride and 40 minutes later, we arrived in the fishing village. Here we had a huge dinner for $2 at Kiki’s restaurant with our new friends. This was in a great contrast to the other side of the island where we paid 6$ for one portion, and had to order a second because it was not enough. We ended the evening by playing some Jungle Speed.
In the village we reunited with Martin and Barbora again, a Czech couple who we met on the boat ride to Koh Rong Sanloem. The following days on the island we hanged out with them, practiced summersaults from the pier, tried (read failed) to fish, and fought the mosquitos in our room.
M’Pay Bay is really worth a visit. There’s this relaxed, authentic vibe. It is not as developed as other parts of the island, and there’s only electricity during the day. All the kids, from the few amount of families that live here, play happily together all day long. And there’s a nice 2km beach, where there’s almost no one to be found.
When we returned from Koh Rong Sanloem we spent one more night in Sihanoukville, and returned to our favourite restaurant where they served amazing seafood from the bbq. The following morning, we picked up our motorbikes from the storage where we left them, and after a few kickstarts they were good to go again! At least… that’s what we thought until we turned around the corner, and my CDI suddenly blew up. Luckily a mechanic was near, and after 45 minutes and $13 we were enroute to Kampot.
One of the first things we did in Kampot, was visiting Bokor National Park; in one word: amazing! Only the beautifully paved road up the hill, definitely the best road we saw in Cambodia so far, is already worth the trip. Any motorbiker’s heart will melt when carving up the serpentines. When we arrived on top of the hill a great variety of fantastic views welcomed us. Ranging from an enormous waterfall, to a thick rainforest, to a lake, and an abandoned city.
The French used Bokor Hill Station as their getaway during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The abandoned old casino, church, and several other buildings still remind of the once glorious days of the French in Cambodia. Later that evening we watched the movie “City of Ghosts”, which was partially shot at this location.
The city Kampot itself also reminds of the French era, with old colonial buildings scattered around the place. We spent here a few days relaxing, watched sunsets on the river and drunk fruit shakes prepared by the same lady every evening. We also spotted two dogs stuck to each other by their bums, but as we found out, they were just having sex.
Our Cambodian adventure is coming to an end. Next on the list is Vietnam, which you will read about more in our next blog!