Sihanoukville, Cambodia

                                                                     Intra Ngean Pagoda

March 22, 2010

Cambodia is another new country for us.  It is a country with a difficult history that includes genocide and periods where there was no education available.  In that time, anybody with an education was suspect and therefore arrested and usually killed.  Today, fortunately, Cambodia is a different country.  It is still poor.  Most people make a wage of about $2 US per day, and a large percentage of the population are fishermen.  The ones who do best are the tuk-tuk drivers, who can make $5-10 US per day.  There are many beggars also.  Tourism is an important industry to this area.  

The tour we chose was one that would introduce us to Sihanoukville.  Our first stop was at the Intra Ngean Pagoda (and above), a Buddhist temple that is the city’s most prominent religious site.  One of the trees on the grounds is a Sala tree, like the one under which Buddha was born.  While we were here there were many people, especially children, trying to sell us bracelets and similar little trinkets.

Our next stop was at Ochheuteal Beach which faces the waters of the Gulf of Thailand.  Once again we encountered many vendors, who were offering to cut our finger or toe nails, give massages, or selling swim trunks, bracelets, and the like.  We had a drink here, and we could choose between a soft drink and the local beer.  We tried the latter and found it enjoyable.  We also took a walk on the beach, where we found a few small shells.

From the beach we went to a huge local market, which was clearly geared to the locals rather than tourists.  They had everything from shoes, sundries, clothing and hardware, to fruits, vegetables, and fresh fish and chicken.  It was nice to see an authentic market rather than one set up primarily for tourists.

Our final stop of the day was at the fishing village of Tumnuk Rolok, which is very close to where our ship was docked.  We saw the area where they process the catch.  We also saw a couple of girls picking crab from the shells, and fish drying the old-fashioned way.  There were many small children who loved to say hello over and over.  The village had the characteristic smell of a fishing village, and this apparently got to at least one of the people in our group, who commented that he had lost his appetite.  We found it to be an interesting place to visit.  The boats themselves are very colorful.

We had a very good guide for this trip.  He was not always easy to understand, but he shared a lot of information, both about his country and about his family’s experience.  His father was one who was arrested by the Khmer Rouge, and it is uncertain what happened to him.  They think he might have committed suicide so as to protect his family.  From what he told us, the younger generations of Cambodians are very much like the people of the same generations in our own country; the traditional beliefs, standards and ways of the culture are being lost.

The flag of Cambodia includes the likeness of Angkor Wat, the famous temple of the old capital of Cambodia.  The white color represents the spirit, the red stands for the country, and the blue for royalty.

We enjoyed our visit here.  While Sihanoukeville is not spectacular in the way of Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, it does offer the opportunity to see an authentic example of the traditional Asian way of life.

                                            Tumnuk Rolok Fishing Village

© Susan L. Stone 2015