After the quick, but very nice walk in Phnom Penh city centre and spending almost an hour to reach the airport to catch our flight to Sihanoukville, we arrived to backpackers' paradise. Actually, it is not that far away from the capital, but when planning the trip I read that the "highway" between both cities is the most dangerous one in the entire country. And as it is Asia, and traffic there is crazy, we've chosen the safest option to get there - by plane.
When buying the tickets I got curious why the flight would take around two and a half hours when the bus trip is like four hours... The reason was that we actually had a stop-over in Seam Reap (on the North).
Anyways, we arrived to Sihanoukville airport which is a bit outside the city, so we opted for a shared mini bus transfer to the hotel - 10$ per person, with no previous reservation. It was not as fast as I wish it was, but it was safe. Quickly checked-in, put bikini on and found the fastest way to the beach. I was expecting something like a desert beach (I have no idea why I always have these expectations for beaches in Asia...) and what I found what exactly the opposite. There were bars and restaurants everywhere, but in the current situation were more than welcomed as it was already late afternoon and we still had no lunch. We saw a restaurant, where some tourists were having drinks, so we decided it's "safe". As we were in the beginning of the trip, we were still trying to be careful with food and drinks (and with the ice in drinks). And it didn't disappoint. The food was delicious! As well as the mojito I ordered. I felt so good at the beach that I completely forgot all those concerns about the ice... I was just enjoying the moment. Although the beach was not what I expected, there was garbage and the water didn't seem clear (it was clean though) I finally felt the vacation. There were no more delayed or missed flights to worry about, nor rushing in between the traffic with a tiny tuk-tuk to catch another plane... There were just the beach, the peasant sound of the sea under the shining sun and me on the shadow with a mojito in hand. It was almost perfect.
After lunch we went for a walk on the beach. The sun was already falling down and we decided to look for a place with a sunset party. We didn't find any, but we got to observe how life on a Sunday afternoon was happening in Sihanoukville. There were many local people, of all ages, enjoying their time at the beach. We sat at another bar, surrounded by locals and all of them seemed happy and carefree on their day off. Big groups of teenagers were having fun with fireworks by the sea and laughing. Women were having their nails done, men were getting massages. Everybody seemed to take the most of what life had to offer them. And even though the county is poor and I assume these people as well, they were simply enjoying life the best way possible. And to me they were example to follow because of their capability to appreciate, love and live life.
Tip: have a meal at Sandan restaurant. It serves delicious Khmer cuisine and is also part of the Tree Alliance - a global alliance of training restaurants, working with youth in need, providing them training, social support, employment opportunities and income for sustainability.