City of Sin…Sihnoukville, Cambodia! (August 2nd-7th)

We arrived by ferry from Ko Chang to Trat at around 8:30pm.  No more buses were departing the city, so we crashed in a cheap hotel (5 bucks) and had some Phat-thai from a night bizarre next door.  Delicious!!!   We even dipped some fondue for desert! 
Next morning we pounced on a bus heading for Cambodia.  We pulled into the border crossing at around 2pm and got visas upon entry.  A fellow traveller clinged onto us during the bus ride since she was nervous about entering the country alone.  She was probably in her early thirties, from Belgium, and apparently had been mugged the last time she entered Cambodia.  She was on her way to Sihnoukville and told us stories of the town’s beauty, so not before long, we were all in agreement about our next destination.  ‘Sin’ville’ it was!
A taxi from the border took us to a tourist trap style bus station (not the local one) where all the tourists were being ripped off.  We, being Michelle and I, really bargained like crazy to get the price down, but were eventually so drained we gave in to the 16$ per person price to get down to Sihnoukville by minibus.  I’m sure there was a local bus station somewhere, but no local taxi’s would come to this sketchy corner except the ones in on the deal.  In addition, 3 Canadian guys, Mike, Jessie, and Ben, who travelled with us to Sville were royally ripped off by trying to exchange some Dollars to Real (Cambodian Money).  You definitely have to have your wits about you, cause these people know how to take advantage of the careless travellor.
  
The bus to Sville involved 4 ferries across beautiful rivers since the roads were patchy and incomplete.  At times, we weren’t sure the bus would make it through knee high thick, wet sludgy mud.  Fortunately, 6 hours later we arrived.  Taking the advise of an Australian we met back in Trat, we (being us 4 Americans, 3 Canadians, and the 1 Belgium) rented rooms at Chan Guest House.  And well my friends, this is where Sinville starts to get interesting!
It was late when we arrived, and we all were a little hungry.  The eight of us went out to a 7-11 type store to first buy some liquor.  The girls (Michelle and Ruthless) purchased a bottle of white wine, while us manly men got a bottle of vodka and a 750ml of cheap local crap that tasted like Sambuca (If you don’t know the taste, don’t try it …..if you do know what it tastes like and enjoy it, something is wrong with you). 
We brought all our liquor into the restaurant and ordered some dinner.  No one had a problem with it and we happily ate and drank.  The general manager sat down with us along with a couple other employees.  Personally, the liquor was hitting me hard, abnormally hard, and on top of that I was cleaning up everyone’s plate, I don’t know why (I couldn’t get full).  I was setting myself up for a horrible evening.  Not only myself, but the GM got smashed fast as well, which was very entertaining.  We definitely had the happening table, and sat there well after they shut the doors.  It was a good time, but only the beginning to a long evening…for most! 
After the restaurant, we went to a bar.  I don’t remember much about this place except really starting to feel sick.  So sick, Michelle walked me home (Ya, pathetic I know, I felt like a failure to USA in front of the Canadians, but more importantly a loser to myself).
Sometime during the walk home, I remember Michelle and I went Salsa Dancing at a beach bar, but it was shortlived and felt more like a dream in my hazy and nearly unconscious state of mind. 
Immediately at home I crashed dead, I think I had food and alcohol poisoning combined (If possible).  Definitely not a good combination!  Michelle went back out, and the stories I heard the next morning about that night made me green with envy.  Apparently, at the bar, strangers would constantly buy them rounds of drinks and offer them endless amounts of ganja.  As the story goes, they partied all night long till everyone was in my condition.  I definitely felt like the light weight of the group….oh, how I must redeem myself!
The following morning, weirdly, I felt great!  The day was rainy and gray to match the mood of the Canadians.  Shane, Ruthless, Michelle, and I woke up around 4pm (Ya, I know) and headed out to have some breakfast.  We picked a restaurant right next door to keep as dry as possible while running through the rain.  We literally stayed their for the rest of the day.  It was a beautiful restaurant, with a thatched roof and open walls.  Here, let me explain the day’s events.
At first, we ordered some ‘Happy’ Pizza.  We had an idea of what ‘Happy’ meant, but weren’t entirely sure about its components (It’s really difficult to understand or converse in dialog with people here at times).  Anyway, we ate up and didn’t feel anything.  We then ordered an individual dish in sequence, and each tried everyone’s selection as they came out of the kitchen.  A couple from Holland joined and left our table at around dinner time as the night progressed.  This place had excellent fruit smoothies (I thought I’d just throw that in).  Our last 2 orders of the evening (at around 9:30pm) ended up being a ‘happy’ pizza, then an extra, extra ‘happy’ pizza.  This latter pizza is beyond words.  Literally, you could not see the toppings due to a thick layer of sprinkled ‘happy’!!!  Well, this ingredient lived up to its name.  We started getting crazy and cracking up uncontrollably.  Ruthless, who wasn’t feeling it in the beginning, immediately hit a stopping point and became sick.  Shane walked her home, then came back out.
  
It was a blast, but honestly (and it wasn’t the drugs talking) things started getting a little weird around us.  We suddenly became aware we were the only ones in the restaurant, and all the Cambodian workers started dancing and singing around us.  They then would pause their routine and stare us right in the eyes, literally inches from our face asking, ‘Are You Happy?’!!  On top of that, they started trying to get us to drink beer that had already been opened, and being very pushy about it.  I was prepared at any minute for someone to sneak up from behind and blindfold me, only to find myself waking up in a bathtub of bloody ice with open sutures.  When things got to the point of utter paranoia, Shane yelled out ‘F**kin’ RUN!’ and we jumped up and took off not looking back.  In hindsight, ya, we were all a little loopy, but something fishy was definitely taking place.  Fortunately, we are all still in one piece and able to tell the story of the most uneventful, yet frightening day at a ‘Happy’ restaurant in Sihnoukville, Cambodia!
The next day, Sunday, was another rainy day.  It’s monsoon season so most days are gloomy and dark.  We woke up late and did nothing but relax.  We were mainly waiting here till Monday to get our Vietnam visas from the Vietnamese Consulate that was located downtown.  Sihnoukville is the fastest place in Cambodia for this transaction.
Early Monday we went out for a jog, then at 2pm got our visas as planned.  It cost 40$ a piece (average price), but only took 10 minutes.  Afterwards, we had some lunch and came to the sad realization that all buses heading north were done for the evening.  This left no choice but another night in sketchy Sinville.  Michelle and I were itching to get into some nature, so after we found a cheap room near the bus station, Shane and Ruthless went upstairs while we found the slowest Tuk-Tuk in Cambodia to take us to a nature reserve about 40 minutes away.
  
We were geared up with flashlights, long sleeves, and pants, as well as a knife I purchased in Thailand; it’s a big mother that acts as a machete.  Anyway, we made it to the park only to find out that it wasn’t too much of a jungle.  Big trees were scarce and animal sounds (like birds and insects) seemed muted.  The jungle improved a bit as we hiked, but still we were never overtly impressive.  We were supposed to be accompanied by a guide, but we talked our way out of it.  Even though wildlife seemed to be exterminated from this area, some of the views were still rather breathtaking.  Day went to night as we trekked towards ‘Meditation Mountain’.  When we were surrounded by pitch black, we came to the realization we only had the slightest idea of which direction to head.  We pulled up our pants, determined a location, and went head on, trail blazing Cambodian style!  Probably not the brightest thing to do considering Cambodia is the most dangerous place on earth (with the exception of equatorial Africa) to accidentally step on a land mine, but for some reason being in national park boundaries convinced us we were safe (which I don’t think really mattered).  See, in the mid eighties, a genocidal Cambodian dictator apparently ordered the planting of more than double the landmines that had been laid in Vietnam during their war.  What’s the world coming to when your biggest fear on a hike through the jungle is to be blown up from a bomb?
  
After about 30 minutes of heading in the same direction (I had a compass), we could see a road in the distance, only we had to cross through a couple hundred yards of muddy rice paddies to make it!  Our boots were already soaked from the off and on rain and traversing through streams, that the wetness wasn’t an issue.  What a great and surreal experience it was coming out of the forest, down the hills, and into rice fields!  We made it to the road where we stopped a motorbike who then took us for five bucks back to Sihnoukville (3 people on 1 small motorbike, that’s truly SE Asia style)!  We rejoined the Yahoo’s (Shane and Ruthless) for dinner, having some delicious Amok (Cambodia’s version of Curry).  Afterwards we went to sleep, only to find ourselves in the morning on a bus heading for Cambodia’s capital, Phenom Penh!      

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