Sunday, April 1, 2012

Flying to Sihanoukville for a couple of days

2nd - 3th March

Unable to book a ticket via the Cambodia Angkor Air website (for the last 6 months, after numerous attempts and reassuring emails from their office) we found their headquarters in Siem Reap and paid for our seats. Angkor Air is currently the only airline offering this route, unless perhaps if you have the dosh to hire your own plane.

The flight from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville is very short, it's only around 170 km as the crow flies. At US$117, it's expensive in comparison to the other local flights, but worth it when the alternative is a  9 - 10 hours in a bus. It was a nice flight, but the (burning off of crops) smoke in the air, as we left Siem Reap, was very evident.
Sihanoukville Airport

The tiny Sihanoukville airport is 25 km from town, and unless you’ve organised a transfer with your hotel, your only mode of transport is a bus. Air conditioned and comfortable and costing US$6 and if you’re hotel is on the bus route, they’ll gladly drop you off along the way.

Otherwise, the *bus station*, end of the line, is the Golden Sands Hotel. Being hotelless, but knowing we were in the right area, we grabbed a tuk tuk driver, told him our price range and requirements, and agreed on a cost for the ride. In we climbed with our bags and drove around the corner, down a short street, around another corner and into the driveway of a hotel. All of a one minute ride. Stray does all the enquiring and negotiating on these missions, while I ride shotgun laze about over the driver and the bags.

Three hotels later, which were within metres from each other and either too expensive or booked out, our driver suggests a guesthouse, not a hotel. Sure, we don’t care what it’s called, so long as it’s clean, comes with air and sat TV. He heads back to where we set out, to the Golden Sands and pulls in across the road at Zana House (review on
Stray outside our first doubles available until tomorrow.
As budget travellers (still one step above backpacking, because we’re not willing to share our bathroom) this guesthouse is a little gem. Newish, nice staff, well set out, immaculate simple rooms with strategically placed ‘Please be quiet’ signs all over the premises.
Traffic outside our guesthouse
It’s roughly less than a kilometre from Ochheuteal beach (where all the action is) and the township, it's in the middle.
The Golden Sands Hotel is the purple dooverhicky
The shore is lined with numerous cafes and bars, a walk way separates them, from the chair littered sand. At dusk, a quick switcheroo, and nearly all are serving a BBQ meal on the beach for US$3. Nothing fancy, but tasty.
Some empty out their indoor furniture to become evening alfresco settings.
Mixed seafood, baked potato, garlic bread, salad and yummy dipping sauce, I've yet to recreate.
Apart from the usual postcards and books, vendors patrol the beach selling, for want of a better name, ‘pop off’ fireworks to tourists, which are generally if you're lucky shot up into the air over the water. You know, those tubes filled will small explosions of colour.

The onslaught of the disabled passing by, begging can be both very saddening and, however unpolitically correct of me, very off-putting. And, don’t be surprised if, after you’ve pushed your plate away, a small child asks you for your leftovers. 
Weeding? No, collecting something edible/useful from the footpath
One of the restaurants seems to have rights over the over sized floaty toys bobbing around about 30 metres out to sea, waiting to be bounced on and jumped off. It’s quite comical when the staff realise people are frolicking around out there for free, unaware? that there’s an all day $2 usage fee, and are trying to beckon them back in to land, to pay. 
The Lion round about in town
Being in Sihanoukville for only two nights, we didn’t venture far, just enjoyed the much appreciated cool sea breezes, relaxing, eating and one of us got a hair cut.
Next stop, Phnom Penh.

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai


Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap, I just love the 'traffic' outside your guest house. Sweet!

"begging can be both very saddening and, however unpolitically correct of me, very off-putting"

Ditto. It's an experience I can do without thankyouverymuch. Many a time I've been driven away from an area by aggressive beggars.

I'll sometimes buy things I don't need but I won't if I'm hassled. So it helps no one.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

Cat, it's the first time I've seen cows (very healthy cows I might add) ferreting through rubbish baskets.

The beggars were'nt agressive, but plenitufl. It's pitiful when you sit yourself in the middle of the arrangement of chairs, because you know you're harder to get at :(

Martyn said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap - Tourists attract beggars but the big question is who's behind them. Mafia run, or genuine poor families.

The guest house and US$3 beach tucker look sweet, neat and good value. Value is something most tourists go after.

I'd never heard of Sihanoukville before and so Sticky Wiki had to come out of her box...she gave me some disturbing information.

'...The planned flights between Sihanoukville and Siem Reap may encourage visitors to Angkor temples in Siem Reap to extend their stay, though the crash of a charter flight in Phnom Damrey on 25 June 2007 from Siem Riep,has caused concerns...'

The words visitors, flight and crash in the same sentence have a habit of scaring me. Personally, I like bus rides, you can see what makes a country tick and tock through a coach window.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Martyn “Tourists attract beggars but the big question is who's behind them. Mafia run, or genuine poor families.” You’re right Martyn, and I’ve been a tourist many times. One poor guy dragged himself to our table outside our hotel, in Siem Reap. The smallest amount I had on me was US$5…Stray reckons his grin could have split his face in two.

Perhaps he had to hand it over to a Fagin type, or went around the corner to buy a case of Angkor beer…or perhaps it really did make his day/week. I do know that it depends on how much I’ve been hounded and how much I have in my pocket at the time. And, there’s always the guilt trip of having all my limbs functioning normally.

“charter flight”!!!!! See, I’m safe, I could never afford a charter flight, lol.

Martyn, I don't think *you* could spend too long in Sihanoukville, I think Siem Reap or more rural is your go, but it is worth a visit.

Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

Cows going through rubbish bins? That must have been weird to see.