I lived in Sydney for about five and a half years and went to the beach once or twice. I’ve lived in Phnom Penh just over a year and I’ve already had four trips to the beach- despite Phnom Penh being and inland city. About 4 hours drive from Phnom Penh is Kompong Som, also known as Sihanoukville, a beach resort type town.
Each time I’ve been it’s been with a big group of Christians on a conference or retreat. Most recently KS and I joined the fourth year students for their end of year class holiday. We drove down on Friday afternoon and back on Saturday.
I enjoyed the trip as I got to hear and try to speak Khmer language more than usual. I’ve been feeling like I spend a lot of time reading and writing and I need to be actually using it more. I know some of the fourth years from around college and other places, so it was fun to spend time with them. I was also excited because the guest house we stayed at had hot showers and cable TV (and Air con), including the Australian channel (although didn’t get time to watch anything).
The beach is lined with these restaurant shack places where you can order food and rent chairs to sit on. Most Khmer people swim in shorts and t-shirts- I think they probably find it a bit strange to see the foreign tourist wearing only “underwear” at the beach. One end of the beach has these big soft chairs and beach shacks that sell western food, but we sat down the more Khmer end.
I was the only “barang” (literally means French but also used for any white foreigner) with a big group of Khmer people singing Christians songs.