Sihanoukville was fun – a lot of fun – but it definitely had its quirks.
My first day there I went to the beach where I found a nice “quiet” spot between two middle-aged sex tourists in the midst of the Cambodian hawkers. There were the usual children selling you bracelets, teens selling you sunglasses and women offering massages, pedicures, threading and such. But they don’t just offer these things here, they provide samples! (you’d think this was a Costco).
So there I was, relaxing, tanning, and being generally polite to the endless stream of salespeople when Little Cambodian Bracelet Girl ties a bracelet on me “for free.” I did not want this bracelet but she insisted, braiding it in my favourite colour and essentially staking her claim on me to the other Little Cambodian Bracelet People. She effectively guilted me into never, ever purchasing from anyone else. Girl has game.
Then there was the middle-aged woman wanting to thread my leg hair. First off, how insulting, calling me hairy and such (I’ll admit I was a little hairy…Beach Day #2 I made sure there was not a hair in sight). I said no, having already had 4 hairs brutally ripped away as a “sample” of Little Cambodian Bracelet Girl’s buddy’s services and thereby guilting me into loyalty. But of course, Hair Threader #2 wouldn’t take no for an answer. She called over her toddler to do the threading. Girl also has game. (And I will admit, the toddler was a good move…she was adorable…and I was tempted).
I managed to ignore the persistent pestering to take nap. A short, but deep, drooling on yourself kind of nap. I was woken by a woman rubbing my feet (“massaaagggge??” she whispered in her heavy Cambodian accent, telling me her life woes and hoping I’ll alleviate said woes by letting her rub my sweaty, sandy body in public).
Combine this with sad, limbless, landmine-stricken people begging for money and a hooker and last night’s date fighting over her need to “boom boom” with other men and you have your average day on a Sihanoukville beach.
“Quiet” isn’t it?
I spent about 4 days with this beach routine of mine, swimming in the ocean by day and drinking with Monkey Republic Stranger Friends by night and it was fun. I had a great time. But by the time 3 people at my hotel had been mugged and another drugged by a lady boy I decided it was time to move on. Goodbye Sihanoukville. As always, it’s been an adventure.