Friday, 27 January 2012

Sihanoukville – Significantly Sleazy

We had heard good and bad about the country’s premier beach destination, the “Costa del Cambodia”, the town of Sihanoukville.  We had read blogs by families who loved it and found it to be one of their favourite beach spots in South East Asia and we had read blogs by people who hated it.  We were certainly not amongst the lovers but we didn’t hate it quite as much as some.

The lovely sandy beach stretched for miles and we were pleasantly surprised with just how nice the sand actually was.  Most of the developed part of the beach was jam packed with little restaurants, all with the same rattan chairs, the same beach umbrellas and the same menus.  The beer was super cheap and the food on offer was actually really good.  We even had mashed potatoes and BBQ chicken that tasted just like home. Although we love the Asian food it was a nice change to have something on the menu so much like our own homemade BBQ's.  We also had fantastic fruit and treats from the friendly vendors that roamed the beach.  This part was great. 


The beautiful view from our hotel room was also great.

The fine sand stretched quite far past the developed area of the beach and it will not likely be long before the vacant land lining the coast gets turned into resorts, shops or restaurants.  Unfortunately, the beauty of the shoreline was diminished by the garbage that is everywhere.  There were also some pretty ugly half built buildings that appeared to have been abandoned and left to the cows and squatters.

It was great to run along the deserted sand and between the various beaches that make up the coastline.

What made us uber-uncomfortable in Sihanoukville was the number of sleazy looking men who were there either alone, in groups (of men) or already with young Asian women. (being a couple of "mixed race" we are obviously not opposed to the Asian/Caucasian component of the equation.  In Sihnoukville it was, however, rather evident that many of the couples we were seeing were not actually couples at all.)  We found the under currents and the outright evidence of the sex tourism in Sihanoukville to be just too much.   This was the first time on our trip where this aspect of South East Asia was so evident and in your face.  It made us feel really sad and empty.  

The sunshine the lovely sand and the cheap food and drink were not enough to hold us long in Sihanoukville.  The town itself held no charm and the sleaziness of the sex tourism drove us away a tad faster than we had anticipated.  This was our last stop in Cambodia which was a shame as we had loved the other parts of the country we had visited.

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