The journey from Siem Reap back to Phnom Penh took a while but was smooth and with no issue. The bus stopped 2 km from my hostel but I felt already comfortable in the city and did not need any tuktuk, enjoying a walk through the streets that were even at 22:00 still in a rush and crossing the roads is still challenging. Green light does not play any role here. I was again warned by an unknown man to be careful with my phone when holding it in hand. Thieves are everywhere and just few days ago it happened to my friend Phyllis that her backpack was stolen during the way to the airport when she was returning back home to Malaysia. Luckily after 3 days she managed to take another flight.
I stayed for 2 nights in the same hostel as before, enjoying the view to Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers, met again Chihiro, a friend from Japan who has been staying here for longer time and kicked again owner’s ass in chess. After my last stay I gave him a full points review on Booking.com but mentioned that he needs to improve in the game. I was smiling when he came to me after my arrival, saying that he read that review. Anyway, no mercy with him this time either.
One night I chatted with a bartender and all the time thinking that for a local guy his English is really good. I asked if he was born in Phnom Penh or other city and his answer just got me. “What the f*ck, I am Australian.” That guy is just travelling and has been staying in hostel for few months to chill and little work. Yea, his eyes actually did not look too Khmer. I took another Taekwon-do training and despite the fact that Korean Master Ri did not attend, we were fine with practising by our own.
After 2 nights I took a bus from Phnom Penh towards Sihanoukville that is 180 km south on the shore. The common duration is 4,5 hours, due to traffic jam and an accident on the road, it took me 7 hours. At the beginning a lady sitting in front of me put her seat so low and relaxed with her hands behind her head that close to me, she was like 15 cm from my head. If she stretched her finger with her long nails, she would have stabbed me into the eye. But great manicure though. There are highways in Cambodia too, actually we were taking one but the difference from the European is enormous. There is no big deal seing a car driving completely on the right side in a side lane but in opposite direction.
In Sihanoukville it was rainy and my hostel 10 km far on a beautiful Otres Beach II. Although it was late and outside quite a shower, my initial plan was to take a walk. I refused all the tuktuks who tried to charge me 300% of a normal price and continued towards the destination. Not even after 200 m a guy on a motorbike stopped at my side asking where I was going. I told him and asked for a price but what a surprise when he offered a free drive. Seeing all that long and dark road, at the end it was not such a bad idea to take a vehicle despite the fact that due to the speed the rain was slapping my face really harsh and the wind coming from the front revealed that the driver was not completely sober. After next 20 minutes on the road with holes filled by water we reached the hostel. I asked again what I owe and with big thanks for a free ride I went to check-in.
The Boho hostel was managed by a guy from Manchester, UK, really friendly and I stayed 1 night here but after 2 weeks of travelling I decided to enjoy some large bed and privacy in a hotel. For next 3 nights I booked one just next to it and together with huge bed where I slept diagonally like a king, I enjoyed palma trees and swimming pool in front of my condo.
The morning after was a laundry time. Cambodia is hot and my bagpack limited. I found a nearby laundry service where for 1 USD (0,85 EUR) you get 1 kg of your clothes washed. Delivery within 24 hours, nicely folded. It was a good idea to buy few t-shirts of Merino wool that are really a good deal for all the travellers. Pleasant to wear, durable, drain the sweat and even after a week you still smell like a flower. In the afternoon I enjoyed the swimming pool and beat my brothers record when holding the breath under the water for 4:32 minutes. To make it even more difficult I am gonna make it 5:00.
The surroundings of Otres Beach is a perfect place to rent a bike and explore the nearby roads and places. Costs 2 USD (1,70 EUR) for 24 hours. I took a ride to Sihanoukville on the shore lined by palma trees and small street shops. Seeing all the meat laying on the sun all day long, I am wondering how I would end up taking it for lunch. Leaving the beach, on the countryside there are lots of people living in a very poor houses built from few plates of iron and sleeping on the ground. It is incredible how the life level differs in the world and people in Czech Republic are lucky enough to have what they have. And in case they do not have what they want to have, they are just lazy asses. Despite the fact or poverty, here in Cambodia I have a feeling that people are so friendly, open and all the time smiling. I haven’t seen so many people smiling at me anywhere else and I hope it is not due to my appearance or funny look. Many people are trying to ask by simple English where I am from but only some of them know Czech Republic although the Cambodian king lived in former Czechoslovakia for 13 years, trying to be a ballet dancer and studied under Czech masters at the National Theatre. And yes, the King Norodom Sihamoni can speak fluently Czech!
Next day was a kayak day. I rent one for 1 hour for 6 USD (5,10 EUR). There are several few small islands about 3 km far from the beach where you can paddle to. I chose the one that was obviously private one and surrounded by buyos. Not taking the risk to go to jail 🙂 by entering a private property and surely to respect owner’s privacy, I just took a look on the house rising on its shore and paddle back. Although it was pretty cloudy, not to use a sun cream was not a good idea. In the evening I found a magic of local mango fruits. Sweet, juicy and really worth trying, kilo for 1 USD (0,85 EUR). The taste is way different from European one and within an hour I was in the shop buying next 3 pieces.
Not sure what caused my state the day after but I woke up with a temperature. It might have been eager kayaking, biking, sun, mango grown on local water, or maybe just all together. I booked a bus back to Phnom Penh and around noon took a tuktuk to Sihanoukville, waiting the 4,5 hours drive back to capital city to enjoy few last days of Cambodia.
Before my Vietnamese visa were processed and delivered by mail, I stayed in my beloved Panorama Mekong Hostel, enjoyed chess with owner and bartender Karan and made them cry when they were losing although they tried to make me drunk. I was also still amazed that the nearby outdoor fitness equipment was all the time taken by people from small children to older grandmas, doing their excercise till late hours. Active life.