International Wanderings: Cambodia – Phnom Penh & Koh Rong

Hi all,

First off, I want to apologize for not posting much lately!! I’ve been very busy looking for jobs! As some of you know, this is my last semester in Uni. Time to become a real adult and find some employment for after!

Ok, continuing on with recapping our SEA adventures. We arrived in Phnom Penh very early in the morning and had no idea where we were or where to go. We were totally lost and as much as we didn’t want to, we let a tuk tuk driver take us to his ‘recommended’ hotel. We didn’t like to do this, as it’s widely known that the taxi or tuk tuk drivers will rip you off in a heart beat. The hotels that had been recommended by friends were all booked up, so we had no other choice but to trust the drivers. Luckily, the hotel our driver took us to was actually quite nice and we ended up staying there for two nights. Phnom Penh was an interesting city. I think with more time, we would have loved to explore a little bit more and get a better feel for the city. Our first day we hired a tuk tuk driver who took us out to a gun range and we shot a couple rounds of the M16 and AK47. This was my first time shooting a gun so it was pretty fun! We just shot at coconuts lined up. Apparently if you ask the right people, you can shoot a bazooka! But this comes with a pretty penny, I’ve heard around $300. How badly do you want to shoot a bazooka??

Cambodia Guns

Once back from the gun range, our tuk tuk driver, who ended up being this really funny all around good guy, invited us to go watch the fights. It was Cambodia vs South Africa and was supposed to be a pretty big deal as it was team Cambodia’s first ring fight. According to Boombastick (Our tuk tuk driver’s nickname, I have no idea was his real name was. And yes, this is after the Shaggy song) Cambodia usually only did cage fights. We bought beers to bring in with us, as this is apparently normally allowed at the fights, but because Cambodia Beer was sponsoring, we weren’t allowed to bring the beer cans in with us. So we got creative! We ended up going back to the little shop across the street and bought a big water jug and filled it with the beer we had previously purchased! Somehow, this was allowed in with just a few laughs from the security guard. Unfortunately, team Cambodia did not fare very well against SA. Boombastick explained that they weren’t used to the brute strength style of fighting that was seen with SA. According to him, Cambodia usually fights with quick high impact moves rather than the total domination style we saw with SA.

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Our beer jug!

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Just cooling off with all my Cambodia Beer swag

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The next day Boombastick picked us up in the morning as we arranged to go to the killing fields first thing in the morning. I knew briefly what had happened in Phnom Penh under the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, but was not prepared for all the details I learned while visiting the killing fields that day. If you are interested in the history at all, please read up on it. It’s truly awful what this country went through. After an emotional couple of hours at the killing fields, we drove back into the city to observe the S-21 Prison. This proved to be too much for me, after observing the first building where the torture rooms were and the next building filled with photos of the individuals taken in, I decided I did not want to see any more. I go back and forth whether I’m happy with this decision, and I’m still not sure. I felt like I had seen enough sadness for one day that I really did grasp the awful torture this man did to the country, but I still felt like I should have gone into the other buildings to get the full impact as to what life really was like for these poor innocent people. Following this, Sue and I just took it easy and spent the evening going to a wonderful restaurant called Friends. They take youth that would otherwise not have very good opportunities in their life, and train them to become chefs and servers. We received the most friendly service while we were there and the food was so good! I highly recommend you check out this restaurant if you find yourself in Phnom Penh.

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The next day we took a bus to Sihanoukville where we took a ferry to the most adorable island, Koh Rong. There are no roads or electricity on Koh Rong. There are two ferries there and two ferries back in a day. The island runs on generators once the sun goes down, but only until about midnight. After midnight, you can find many backpackers and locals alike crowded around candles telling stories and drinking beer. It’s pretty remarkable. Unfortunately for me, I made the awful choice of eating a burger on the beach. This led to food poisoning and a very unpleasant 36 hours. I highly advise you to never consume a burger on an island that doesn’t even have electricity when the sun’s out. Please, don’t do it!

Once I recovered, it was the morning of our third day on the island and Shawn and Dustin arrived! It had been a week since we had left them in Nha Trang, and I was ecstatic!! It had been fairly hard on me being away from Shawn. I had not expected to feel so sad without Shawn, and had wanted to be more entertaining to be a good friend to Sue but I just could not pull it together. I remember being soooo excited when the ferry pulled up and saw Shawn walking off the dock! We decided we were going to hike to the other side of the island to visit the Seven Mile Beach. A friend of mine had highly recommended it, so we were very excited! The hike started off very nice and we followed the blue ribbons for the most part but then we got lost and ended up on the red ribbon trail. Oops. This was the more difficult trail. I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow I misstep and put too much weight on a shifty rock. Down I went. And twisted my ankle. A girl can just not catch a break on this island! I may have been in shock but was able to make it the rest of the way and saw the miraculous beach! It really was beautiful! We spent the afternoon wading and floating in the shallow water. The beach was full of sand flies so it was much more comfortable to relax in the water. When I eventually tried to stand though, I realized my ankle had totally swelled up and was huge! We ended up paying to catch a boat back to the other side of the island as I knew I would not be able to make it back on my ankle. Sorry guys. I took the rest of the night pretty easy.

The next day was a total thunderstorm, and I was thankful! It was just a lounge day for us and we could lie around undercover and stay dry and rest my ankle. It was fun to take a break and just play cards and watch movies. We left the next day on a ferry back to Sihanoukville. I wish that I had done things differently, because this island was soo adorable and so fun!

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Seven Mile Beach on Koh Rong, soo beautiful!

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Our stormy day of relaxing, much needed!

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Best boyfriend, icing my swollen ankle

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I was going to try to get all of Cambodia into one post, but I think this is a good place to stop.

Have you guys had any mishaps when you’ve been traveling?? Let me know in the comments!

xoxo Alice Rose

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