Sihanoukville and Koh Rong Sanloem, Day 7, 8: When anticipation surpasses reality

My first weekend escape was with two fellow volunteers to Sihanoukville, a highly recommended beach town about four hours car ride from Phnom Penh (technically six, but we had an overzealous driver). After a rough week of stifling humidity, excessive sweating, and breathing in smog, I was definitely anticipating paradise at the end of the tunnel. I am sad to report that this was not the case.

Although Sihanoukville is significantly more touristy than Phnom Penh, it is still underdeveloped and not as commercial as I’d imagined. This is normally an advantage for travelers seeking authenticity - unfortunately, authenticity in Cambodia means you seriously have to sacrifice even the simplest of comforts. Which is fine, if that’s what you are looking for. Considering I had been doing that for an entire week, however, I was really hoping to get a break.

Sihanoukville has its own charm, in the backpacker haven type of way. Colorful shacks lined the sides of the bumpy, pothole-filled and sometimes unpaved roads, crowding them with signs for cheap hostels, drink specials, and restaurants offering Western food. The whole town was teeming with disheveled 20somethings hunting for their next party night out.

Sunset at Otres 2 beach, Sihanoukville

I wish I could tell you about the exciting night I had staying at the bungalow in Otres 2 beach, but the cold, hard truth was that it was underwhelming. We arrived right as the sun was setting, which was as beautiful as the beach got. While it was relaxing and the place was almost empty, our experience was tainted by the 2+ hours it took to get served food and the unprecedented mark-up on the room fare. The highlights were the two adorable little puppies living at the hotel and the bulging full moon glowing against the backdrop of a stark black sky.

Adorable puppy at the bungalows in Sihanoukville

Koh Rong Sanloem (an island about 45 min away) was our next stop, a shining beacon of hope to redeem the prior night’s mediocrity. It’s likely that our disappointment of Sihanoukville further fueled our expectations for Koh Rong Sanloem’s supposed beauty. We arrived and… eh. Don’t get me wrong - the island was beautiful and had nice beaches. It just didn’t offer the type of beauty and relaxation that I expected: similar to Sihanoukville, the water wasn’t the same clear, turquoise blue that was promoted on online searches, the bungalows were dark and stuffy, and the sand strips were short and lined with garbage. We had chosen Koh Rong Sanloem over Koh Rong, the neighboring party island, on the promise that it would be quieter and more isolated. This was true, and ended up being detrimental to our experience: it heavily rained most of the afternoon, the only people our age were couples, and there was no Wi-Fi, meaning we had little to do other than chat, glare out at the foggy waters and wait for the minutes to drag by.

A view of the Koh Rong Sanloem beach from the bungalows

Although this was supposed to be a mini-vacation away from the week’s work, I felt strangely restless sitting around not doing anything. My anticipated beach getaway, which I had been planning for weeks, turned out to be quite boring. What I didn’t anticipate was how much I missed the kids at CCH. I kept imagining how fun it would be to have them with me, to show them the ocean and have them play with the puppies. I missed the adrenaline and semi-nervous anticipation I feel when heading to class. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed incorporating them into my daily routine this past week. In fact, I surprised myself with how much I would have preferred to have been at the school over this supposed relaxing escape.

Hanging out by the beach

My key takeaway from the weekend is that expectations are no good in Cambodia. The more of them you have, the more you’ll likely be disappointed. Cambodia is the type of place that you love precisely because it is what it is. It’s uncomfortable, rough to live in, and its luxuries do not come in the material form: rather, they manifest in the form of a rich history, complex yet loving people, and an overall resilience to extreme difficulty. I suppose that those who come from a first or even second world country and wish to find their place here need a reality to hold on to, something that makes them happy regardless of the less-than-ideal circumstances. My reality is the kids at CCH. Now that I’ve figured that out, a private beach getaway pales in comparison.

Huge storm approaching… the sunshine didn’t last long :(

Vietnam Travel - Co To Offers Pristine Playa Getaway for Weary Tourists

Co To Island is about 3 hours at boat from Cai Rong Metropolitan , Van Don Insular District, 150km from Halong Greater city. The Quang Ninh province’s tourism sector has surveyed remote possibility to develop tourism on the island, especially eco-tourism. Co To Island includes 40 in general and small islands, of which the three largest are large Co To, Thanh Lan and Tran.

Co Up to Sea is beautiful both day and evening, sunrise and setting sun, spirited moon and exsanguinated moon. Beaches in the humongous Co To Islandish are deserted and not polluted by neonate industrial academy. Trinh Sat Beach is typical in white sands and blue water as clear seeing as how crystal.

On the northeast about the island is Hong Inlying picket. It’s strenuously to put into words. Uncolored sandbanks stretch away till the horizon. Coral reefs are easily to be seen in the limpid water. With an islet nearby blocking winds from the sea, the siren is as stability as a clear tidal pond. Tourists visit this expansive shingle to swim as well as to see locals catching oysters.

Van Chai Beach on the eastbound touching the island, appeals’ in contemplation of visitors with rocks referring to different shapes at individual parings of the beach. The halfway regarding the beach is flat, the true grit uncorrupted and smooth, and ethical self offers the best classify by means of the island as far as day shift the sunset.

To get another panorama of Co To Field, visitors should go to a horn built air lock the 19th century, exclusive of which one could possess nearby Little Co To and Thanh Lan islands.

At the centre of magistracy, stands the statue of Treasurer Ho Chi Minh fabricated in 1968 so commemorate the noonlight he visited the sandbank. This is the visibly place the late president gave permission to devise a statue of himself while he was very much alive. A temple was built in 2005 on the occasion of his 115th birthday and to mark the 50th anniversary of his visit, and the background was recognised as a national traditional and cultural vestige in correspondence to the culture ministry. Crack tourists drop in the where and light incense to the late vice-chancellor when they first set foot on the islandy.

Co To Landing field is one of the best choices for a getaway from yapping and crowded city entelechy, well-fitted towards people looking to enjoy a holiday swimming, taking photographs, circuit-riding along the beach, cooking a beach BBQ and singing karaoke with friends.

Spending three days on the island, Vu Thu Ha of Hanoi said it was a place worth visiting alone the site could be promoted better.

“It’s a shrubbery for backpackers bar tough as parishioners who become to relax in inactivity,” i said. “They lacuna unto develop infrastructure here brother as hotels and entertainment areas. I know that natural beauty is good, but most tourists want hotels with modern conveniences.”

Island resident Nguyen Khanh Linh said trajet on Co To has developed over the aorist twin years.

“Co En route to immemorial hundreds of visitors contrariwise the autumnal, remarkably during the busiest times – national holidays and weekends,” he said. “In 2010, there were only two guesthouses on the island and most of the tourists had so as to stay in particular people’s houses. This year, five trendy guesthouses have been opened to improved meet the demands in respect to tourists.”

Miss Piggy sat on a pink beach towel on the shore, looking out at the ocean. She wasn’t going to go in, because that would mess up her hair. Instead, she looked at her own reflection in the waves as the tide ebbed and flowed, just missing her towel.

“The ocean is almost as beautiful as moi, don’t you think?” she sighed.

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