I’m back in Phnom Penh today having left Sihanoukville this afternoon. Fergus left first thing with Roland heading straight for Siam Reap to see Angkor Wat. I’m going to skip that whole episode and head straight for Ko Samui for new years. I’ll be able to sort out the accomodation and stuff before the boys arrive.

Wes said just as we were leaving Sihanoukville, it’s odd to think that this is a place we’ll probably never visit again. Got me thinking about my memories of the place.

Roland and Fergus got friendly with some of the locals selling bracelets or fruit or other stuff on the beach. So most days on the beach we hung out with a local audience, part chatting, part trying to sell you stuff. Then they invited us to a night club one night and then a couple of nights later for somebody’s birthday. She was 27 apparently, but she didn’t look older than 19.

It was interesting to see Kmer culture first hand, with only a very small spattering of westerners. The mix of karaoke ballads and dancy technoy tunes was definitely an experience! That and the Kmers standing dancing at themselves in the mirror is a memory I won’t lose any time soon.

However, there was a real undertone of cash, one girl in particular insisted that I “invite her” which apparently meant buy her a drink. 50 cents a coke (they don’t drink anything else, which is an altogether different story) I was happy to buy her a drink. Then when we arrived suddenly it was two cokes. Whatever, it was still only a dollar.

I’d met a Kmer guy in a beachside bar who was asking what I was up to. I said I was going to a birthday party, he came along, and apparently had several beers and left without paying. The deal seems to be, they put loads of drinks on the table, then you drink what you like, and get a bill at the end of the night.

Anyway, I left Fergus and Roland with enough money to cover my share and headed back to the beach. I didn’t fancy getting caught up in Kmer bill paying politics.

Overall, Sihanoukville was nice place to visit. A little quieter than I might have liked on party nights, but a nice level of people on the beach during the day. Having been back in Phnom Penh for only an hour or two, the difference is stark. Sihanoukville’s a relaxed, beach side town with a chilled out, laid back atmosphere. Phnom Penh’s a den of debauchery filled with drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes.

Good preparation for Bangkok I think! We’re transitting through Bangkok tomorrow, hopefully not stopping, heading for Ko Samui for new year. Bring on the next round of beach parties…

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