My Covert Breach of the Beach

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January 5th 2007
Published: January 12th 2007
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I booked all my Cambodian tickets on the bus company Capital tour, and, until I left for Thailand, they had been flawless. I left Phnom Pen right on time (ie, I tried to get on the wrong bus 3 minutes before my designated departure time, and they told me as if it was obvious that my bus would pull in front of the station at 7:30, and it was only 7:27), and enjoyed the 4 hour ride down, except for the constant Karaoke VCDs that were playing (see Video from the Phnom Pen Blog for an example). My seat companion was another lovely middle aged women who spoke no English. She came to my aid at a rest stop, where a vendor would not sell my the banana wrapped in sticky rice snack for the same price as the Cambodians were paying, so my seat companion insisted on giving me hers, would not take any money from me, and chewed out the vendor. They were really good. In fact, I stopped by on the way back and got them for the local price at a different stand. On arrival in Sihanoukville, I followed two other backpackers lead in getting off the bus before we arrived at the main station, and again was checked in and on my way to the beach by the time the other passengers were getting their bags. As far as beach towns go, this one was not bad, but those pesky Cyclo drivers would not shut up, so I quickly took the road less traveled and followed the coast, passing several beaches on my way around the city. These beaches are separated by some fairly sizable rocks, so it was actually great to be able to find parts of 7 out of a 10 beach without having anyone else in sight. The weather was overcast (all the better if you ask me), which saved me from having to walk around in direct sunlight for 6 hours. Still plenty warm to go in for a dip.

After working my way around for a bit, I am to this massive rock wall that must have been the divider for a sizable resort, so I climbed inland from the coast, and walked down this road to where I had a good view of this brand new resort being finished. It was free of tourists (which may have explained all

the stretches of nice beach I had all to myself) I think it was the Independence. Anyway, as I made my way down to where the resort drive intersects with the main road, and saw that there was a white couple on a moped stopped at a checkpoint, surrounded by several Khmers. As I got closer, I realized that the French couple (accents carry very well over distances) wanted to drive up and take a picture of the new resort, and this was being denied for 'security reasons'. Hmm, this could get interesting. So, as they argued on, I tried to make my way down the path and around the barrier with drawing too much attention to myself. This almost worked, but about 15 feet from my goal, I heard "but he got to go!". Shit, so close. First things first. French person: screw you. Security people (they did have clubs hanging from their belts): Hi! How goes it? They were giving me the 'what the heck is he doing here and where the heck did he come from' look, so I decided it was time to think fast...yes, thinking fast...but before my fast thinking kicked in, they asked the question. "what you do? Ok, so they don't speak great English. This may be a good thing. "Yes, I am with a travel website, and Mr. Rushdee said it was ok if I took a look." Hey, I didn't have all day to compose my reply. 2 seconds later, one guy who spoke good English asked me "what website? 'Ok, good, Mr, Rushdee has not come into question yet,' back to thinking fast. But all I could think of was those clubs they had, and the injuries they could cause me if they got mad. In this country, the private security people have a pretty free reign. So, back to thinking fast...all I could think of was those clubs, and then for Doctors without Borders came to mind. But that was not very helpful, unless, was it? Ah ha, thinking on my feet, I was good. "Travels Sans Frontiers": a little French and English! They were really confused now, so I capitalized on the moment to state that I "had many other places to see today, for the website, and I had to go." So, off I went, the guards looking at a loss for words, the french couple thinking they had not heard of that website, I was just happy to be out of there.

So, after that, I didn't have too many other notes of interest, except that I wanted to go to this restaurant that served dinner over tables that had snakes in them, plus snakes in see through cages all around (some of the poisonous). But when I got there, they seated me in the "upstairs area" which was next to an aquarium that had some very basic fish in it. I was thinking, what the heck, this is the decor of every Chinese restaurant back in the states, why would I pay a 500% meal premium for this? So, I went back and had a decent Curry on rice back close to my guesthouse. I was getting good at just leaving eateries in Cambodia. Next morning, off to Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor!

Additional photos below
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Garbage in the cityGarbage in the city
Garbage in the city

the reason everyone sticks to the beach
Capital TourCapital Tour
Capital Tour

Some of the buses came with a warning
Lexus with a statementLexus with a statement
Lexus with a statement

Toyota Land Cruisers are very popular here, so if you have the Lexus version, you let everyone know

17th January 2007

Great story, Pete! I love it, I would never have been able to think that fast!

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