Further north in the coast, the area around Sihanoukville is being spoiled by property investors speculating with the coastal terrains, constructing resorts and privatising beaches, since tourism is proving the industry of the future. We were expecting to find hordes of tourists and Khmer families enjoying the beaches and massive tourist development all around the area, but we got such a nice surprise once we arrived there.
Making plans in advance is sometimes good but it can also be unadvisable – at least we don’t like it. Before arriving in Sihanoukville, we had decided to apply for our Visa for Vietnam in the Sihanuokville Consulate, which meant we had to plan which day we would be entrying in Vietnam and therefore planing how long we would be in Sihanoukville, when we would be in back in Phnom Penh and when we will cross the border (too much planing for us, believe me!!). Since we thought that we wouldn’t like so much the atmosphere here we planned to be only for 3 days in Sihanoukville before heading back to Phnom Penh.
We arrived early in the morning, making all the way along the coast in the back of a truck of a Cambodian family. Hitch-hiking in Cambodia isn’t that bad, although not as many people is willing to take you as in Thailand. We went directly to the Vietnam Consulate and did all the burocracy stuff, which took less than we thought, pretty straight forward. Once we got the Visa we were ready to look for a place to stay and explore the city. The first impression about the town wasn’t that bad, since the views of the sea were fine and there seemed not to be as many visitors as we were fearing. We did a long walk carrying our backpack through the town until we found a good, cheap room in Weather Station Hill, where we were able to rent a motorbike –it was supposed to be banned for tourists in this town- to explore the surrounding beaches. We did a loop around the coastline, from east to north, and visited all the beaches in the area. Now it comes the reason why we first said that making plans can be unadvisable, because what we were expecting to be an awful and overcrowded tourist resort like Benidorm –a bad example of tourism development in the Spanish coast- was in fact a much relaxed place to stay with nice beaches outside the main touristic area of town, like Otres beach, a dessertic white sand beach that we almost had for us alone.
So, due to planning in advance we could not spend as much time in Sihanoukville’s lonely beaches as we would have like to. But anyway it was a pleasant stay away of the noise and the inconveniences of big cities and mass tourism. There were not so many visitors around as we expected, probably because it was low season. Being able to visit places not crowded with tourists is one of the things that we like the most, which convinces us that travelling in low season is best for us.