|I'm so behind with updating this trip journal- a whole week behind! In order to catch up I'm not going to spend a long time describing each day, I'll going to write this entry in bullet point form so I can get it down quicker.
Monday- February 13
- Got to Sihanoukville after spending the night on the most uncomfortable bus ride I've ever been on
- Took a motorbike from where the minibus dropped me off to my hostel. I couldn't believe that the driver could fit my big pack in front of him and then have me on the back with my other backpack and small bags. I guess if you can fit a family of 5 on a motorbike you can fit one tourist and their luggage. He drove me to my hostel on Otres beach- a pretty secluded beach about 10 minutes outside the main area of Sihanoukville.
The hostel I'm staying at is really cool. It's called Mushroom Point- all the huts are shaped like mushrooms. The dorm room is definitely one of the nicest I've seen. It is right above the reception area in the mushroom dome part of the giant hut and has 7 really large circular beds in it. It's really spread out and feels private even though there are 6 other people in the room. There is a “chill out” area near the reception with three hammocks and cushions and a TV that they play movies on occasionally.
- Met a really nice girl from Germany, Kathrin and went to the beach with her to lay out and read (now reading the Steve Jobs biography)
- Watched the sunset on the beach
- Had dinner with Kathrin then went to a guesthouse / bar called “Wish You Were Here” for drinks (I had delicious sangria)
Tuesday- February 14
- Had breakfast at Sunshine Cafe (a bar / restaurant / guesthouse across the street from my hostel)
- Had a Skype date with my Valentine :)
- Laid on the beach and read
Swam in the ocean
- Ate lunch on the beach
- Got a $3 pedicure from one of the many women walking along the beach offering manicures/pedicures/massages
- Ate the most delicious mango bought from one of the women who walk around with trays of fruit on head
- Watched the sunset
- Booked a boat trip for the following day
- Ate dinner with Kathrin
- Went back to the hostel and was lucky enough to have a second Skype date with my Valentine
Wednesday- February 15
- Ate breakfast at my hostel
- Guy who works at the hostel drove me on his motorcycle to the place I was getting picked up for the boat trip- I tried to hire a moto to drive me but they were way overcharging me, so the guy was nice enough to take me himself
- Got picked up by a tuk tuk who drove me (along with 4 Swedish guys) to the port where the boat was leaving from
- The boat itself was awesome. Three levels on the boat- the first level there were chairs and a place to eat lunch, the second level there was a bar and more chairs and tables, and the third level had a sun deck with cushions and places to lay down.
Met a really nice group of people within the first 20 minutes of the trip. It was very interesting because so far I haven't met that many Americans while traveling, but there were 4 other Americans I met on the sun deck. 3 of them were actually from California! One girl was from Florida and another woman was from Australia.
- Weird coincidence was that one of the French guys who was in my dorm room in Siem Reap and who I went with one day to one of the temples was on the same boat trip
- We hung out on the sun deck and talked / read / listened to music until we arrived at - our first island
- Our first stop wasn't to actually go to the island itself, but rather snorkel around the island
- The top deck of the boat was about 25 feet high and people were jumping off the deck into the ocean
- At first I thought there was NO WAY I was going to jump off because it looked so incredibly high and looking down, it felt like a long drop down. After a couple of false starts, feeling like I was going to pass out, feeling nauseous because I was so nervous, and after much peer pressure, I finally jumped! It was such a great feeling. It did feel like a long way down but such a great rush! I was really proud of myself for facing my fear and going for it. I have two videos that were taken of me- the first of me almost doing it and then backing down, and the second of me actually doing it. Both videos show the sheer terror on my face. Haha.
- One of the guys from California (Rob) was still drunk from the night before and heard that if you backflip off the top deck you can get a free shot. So he did one, but no one saw and he was upset that he wasn't given his rightful reward. So he decided to do a “fancy trick” in order to get two free shots. He said he would be performing the “flying squirrel” with a flip. Should have known it would be a disaster just from the name of the trick. He first did a kind of flip then grabbed his ankles behind him and hit the water face first. Everyone cringed at his impact but once we realized he was fine we all burst out laughing at his stupidity. It was one of the most hilarious things I've seen. Most normal people would put their hands up in front of their face if they were about to hit the water face first dropping down from 25 feet above the water- but he kept holding onto his ankles and didn't even flinch at impact. I still laugh just thinking about it. When asked why he chose to slap the water with his face he said “it was strategy.”
-- Side note: another of Rob's brilliant moments was when he came back up to the third deck after drinking and smoking with some Chinese guys and he says to us “Wow. Those Chinese guys sure do speak Mandarin pretty good.” These types of brilliant sayings became known as “Robisms”
- We snorkeled around the island for a little bit. Not very much to see and the water was pretty murky. Was able to see a bunch of little fish and some coral. On the way back to the boat saw a HUGE jellyfish with a school of fish swimming around it. Made sure to stay very far way from it.
- Got back into the boat and had a buffet lunch. Sat with the girl from Florida (Mallory) and two of the guys from California. Turned out the guys had sat in the seats of two very large Russian guys and once they returned to find their seats taken, they weren't pleased at all. They glared at the American guys with a look on their face reading something like “We are from Russian mafia. If you don't move, we kill you.” No words were spoken, but the American guys swiftly moved from the seats.
- Went to a second island called Koh Rong Samloem which was absolutely gorgeous- white sandy beach with crystal clear water.
- Went on a walk through a mangrove forest with murky sulphur water up to our chests- held our cameras and shoes above our head the whole time
- Hung out on the beach for a while just relaxing in the cool clear water before swimming back to the boat
- Got back on the boat and bartenders rang a bell to indicate it was “party time”
People who wanted a free beer could sit on a stool and wear a snorkel mask while the bartenders poured a mug of beer down the snorkel. It wasn't a pretty thing to watch.
- Relaxed on the top deck of the boat until we got back
Thursday- February 16th
- Didn't do much- ate most of my meals at Sunshine cafe with Renata, Guttiera, and Radu (my new friends from Latvia and Romania)
- It was raining on and off throughout the day and there was a really loud thunderstorm- it was kind of cool to listen to the rain hitting the roof of the dorm room hut and hearing the thunder in the distance
- After dinner played Uno for a long time with my new friends and drank red wine
Friday- February 17th
- Another not very eventful, yet relaxing, day
- Went into the main part of Sihanoukville in the morning to get my visa for Vietnam- fastest Visa process in the world! Only took about 3 minutes once I filled out the single page of paperwork to get it.
- Was pouring rain all day so couldn't really be on the beach
- Spent most of the time at Sunshine Cafe just hanging out
- When the sun did come out for a little bit we laid outside and read but it started raining shortly after
- I decided to go swim in the ocean when it started pouring again and it was really fun. Although the I was a bit cold, it was beautiful to watch the rain hitting the ocean. It looked like thousands of little water droplets dancing across the rippling ocean for as far as the eye could see. I closed my eyes and let the rain fall onto my tongue and spent a while just enjoying the feeling of being in the ocean in the pouring rain.
- Decided to leave Sihanoukville the next day because the forecast said it was going to rain all weekend and there isn't much to do here when the weather is bad- bought a bus ticket to Kampot (small riverside city about 2 hours east of here)
- At night ate dinner, played Uno, and drank white wine with Renata, Guttiera, and Radu