115 miles southwest of the capital Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville is a
province in Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand. The province honors
the name of King Norodom Sihanouk, who surprisingly is alive, but
not well, being cared for in China. King Sihanouk is known in
Cambodia as the Father of the Nation because he was the main
promoter of independence from France in 1953. In Cambodian, Sihanouk
, and a statue of a big
lion is the symbol of the city. It was Tuesday, January 31, and we
had one more week of the cruise left.
Touring the City
We bought the tour of the city and environs, which looked like a
good overview of Sihanoukville, given our short timeframe. The
- Independence Beach and Ochheuteal Beach
- Fishing Village of Tumuuk Rolok
Intra Ngean Pagoda Complex
Our first stop dropped us off at the Intra Ngean Pagoda — the
city's prominent religious site. The complex was huge and
consisted of a main pagoda and several smaller ones and a
monastery. Throughout the grounds were statues of various gods and
goddesses and a big gold reclining Buddha.
Buddha with Curt and Dean Standing Guard
As with other religious sites, we had to remove our shoes out of
respect before entering. That always made me nervous because so
many shoes ended up parked outside the entrance. When I came
outside, my shoes were not where I left them. Instead this little
girl of about eight-years-old held them. I said: "Thank you," as I
took them gently out of her hands. She then jestured that she
wanted to help me tie them. I declined politely. But then I could
not get rid of her. She clung to me like glue, and if any other
kids came near us, she suddenly became as nasty to them as a feral
kitten. No matter where I went in the complex, she was right there
with her hand out.
After touring the site and taking several pictures, I got back on
the bus. Only then did I finally shake off my adopted "daughter,"
as everybody in the group called her.
We pulled up to a fine beach area and were promised a free beer or
soft drink as we either swam, took advantage of one of the many
women who sold massages, or just soaked up the beauty of the
Posing with One of the Beach Patrol
To the right in the picture is the bar area, where we cooled
off with a beer or Coke or a cool bottle of water. We soaked up
the sun here for about a half hour and then on to the fresh
Our bus eased into a tight parking area with other buses and
off we climbed and headed for the main market. The market looked
huge from the outside, and indeed it covered a large city block.
Vendor in Fresh Market, Carpet of Leaves on Dirt Floor
We entered the market on a main aisle and had to step over
several beggars who were groveling on the dirt floor for money.
Some had lost hands, arms, fingers, or feet. It was a pathetic
sight that just made me want to cry. We continued along the main
wide aisle until we ran into another tour group, whose leader
was taking them down one of the narrow interior aisles. We
decided to follow so that we could get to the epicenter of the
activity. The smell, coupled with the insufferable heat and
humidity, overwhelmed us and the dank air closed in. I felt
stifled and sick and almost thought I was going to vomit,
especially after the way we saw how the vendors handled the
After threading our way through the maze of narrow aisles, we
found our way out of the stifling, claustrophobic market only to
step back into the broiling sun. It took a few seconds to get
our bearings, and then we headed for our bus. On the way, we
bumped into the leader of our group, Bob McQ and our regular
waiter for dinner aboard the ship, Nyoman (pronounced YO-MAHN)
Nyoman, and Dean
We pulled into a small fishing village for our last stop to see
what local life is like. Our cruise director and the local guide
had both told us that life was very simple and that we should not
be shocked by what we saw. The people work hard pulling in their
heavy nets every morning with the catch of the day, and their
bodies showed it. The men, most of whom went shirtless, sported
magnificent physiques. They looked healthy and strong and seemed
content with their lives, although a bit self-conscious with us
foreigners gawking at them. I assume the tour nets the village a
share in the fees we paid, or at least I hope the village gets
more than just a visit out of letting us look.
in Tumnuk Rolok Village
As we wandered through the village, we saw nets stretched out with
small skates spread out on them to dry. The skates measured about
eight inches wing tip to wing tip. In another part of the village,
we saw fish being boiled and salted to preserve them before they
went to market. Finally, the men were untangling and organizing
their nets to go out again in the evening and spend all night on
for the Night's Fishing
Farther along in a building we saw the village TV set with just a
crude wire bobbing in to hook it up to the main wires outside.
Some women were in the building watching TV, but most people were
busy with the fish or getting ready for the night's catch.
Finally, it was time to rendezvous with our guide and take the bus
back to the ship for lunch. Toward dinnertime, we weighed anchor
and left Cambodia behind, heading down the Gulf of Thailand to our
next stop, Laem Chabang, Thailand.
But before we get to Thailand, we had a day at sea. So, let's take
this opportunity to tell you a bit about life aboard ship. Click
the arrow below.
Return to Top