Leaving Phnom Penh For Sihanoukville
Having left it too late to buy a ticket for the Giant Ibis bus to Sihanoukville the hotel we stayed at recommended another bus company which they claimed is just as good, and, as it costs the same I take the bait, buy the tickets, how wrong can you be. We ended up with tickets on Vet bus run by Virak-Buntham Express Travel & Tour. Like most bus companies in Cambodia they collect you from your hotel about an hour before scheduled departure time. The pickup van, a dilapidated and rusting wreck, from the hotel told me this was going to be an interesting experience come what may. Whilst the actual minivan bus turned out not to be too bad what no one could prepare you for was the insane driver to match the general level of insane driving that is Cambodian road travel. And yes, I have lived to tell the tale, but I reckon the stress of the journey may well knock a couple of years off my life expectancy. To give you some idea of the speed we went at we managed to pass the Giant Ibis bus plying the same route, but which had left Phnom Pen and hour before our departure time. In reality we had little choice as we had a hotel reservation in Sihanoukville and a well-planned itinerary. The next bus journey to Kampot turned out to be equally as hair raising, although mercifully half the distance. In a word never again!!
Having done quite a bit of research on the best places to stay I plumped for Otres village as this was meant to be the most chilled out and quieter of the options on offer, whilst still within easy reach of the beach and Otres 1 and 2. Although it turned out to be a bit of a journey from the Sihanoukville bus station it looked promising as we headed down the dusty and unassuming village streets of Otres village, turning off in the middle and heading a little further to our destination lodging for two nights, Heart Of Venice. A nice place with a pool and simple but perfectly adequate bungalows run by an extended Italian family. On the face of it this turns out to be a good choice being just far enough outside the small village, but still within easy reach of shops and 10 minutes bike ride from a pretty much deserted stretch of beach (they also provide free bikes for guests) The other added bonus is the home cooked Italian food and in particular seafood pasta, which is very good. Day one we spend a couple of hours on the beach and swimming in the gorgeous and clean sea waters. At a little after lunchtime we cycle to Otres 2 in search of food and it is not long before we realise this place seems predominantly peopled by a druggie party crowd. Night two that party crowd a little closer than we expected when I am awoken to the night air filled with the thump thump of a jungle party that can be heard for miles around. 8 am the next morning, a Wednesday, I was once again awoken, but this time to the sound of close by, and so loud the walls are shaken, to the thump thump of hard-core club music. Venturing out from the bungalow to investigate I discover that a nightclub, or should that be day club, is situated just down the road from Heart of Venice and was the party peoples destination following the jungle rave. At breakfast on the balcony a little later I watch the steady flow of drug casualties staggering along the dusty red clay road in a dazed search of the venue, some so out of it they couldn’t find the place, despite the loud bass providing a clear audio map. Later I realised this is the place that the Lonely Planet guide offers as a sign of things being on the up for this part of Cambodia. The locals might beg to differ, but can do little as the club owners pay hefty bribes to the police in order to be left alone and undisturbed. The owners of Heart of Venice, left with little choice, take a philosophical approach and comfort themselves with the fact that it only happens once a week. Me, whilst I feel for them, I’m just happy we are to leave later that morning and I cannot help but wonder how long before somebody dies of an overdose.
My general impression of Sihanoukville, it could be an amazing destination, but unfortunately, it would seem to have become a destination place for drug abuse and as a consequence is being destroyed by corruption. Would I return? Not any time soon. In fact so uninspired was I that I have few pictures to share, or recommendations to make, other than a couple taken at the beach.
My Top Top Tip Here. Book any and all bus tickets that you can for long journeys, or indeed any serviced by Giant Ibis bus company as they are by far the most professionally run and therefore safest on the wild west that is road travel Cambodia.
Giant Ibis online info and bookings click this link for info
Heart Of Venice online info and bookings click this link for info
Next stop Kampot
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