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Cruise Diary: Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Aboard Amsterdam.

Yesterday was Sihanoukville Cambodia day. We docked at 7 a.m., after sailing through a fleet of at least one hundred identical upswept bow, 40 foot, mid-cabin, net-dragging fishing boats returning to port.

Many passengers chose to explore Cambodia’s only commercial container port city on their own. For us, HAL provided clean, efficient shuttle buses, which made the hour long round trip to the principal market in Sihanoukville comfortable.

Jeanne and I took the 9 a.m. shuttle into town. As the bus approached the center of town and the main market, Tuk Tuk (passenger carriages pulled by small, old motorcycles) drivers and other hustlers swarmed the bus.

“No Tuk Tuks,” said Jeanne.

We made the obligatory pass through the market, crammed with soft goods stalls, fruit and vegetable stands, ad hoc restaurants cooking with charcoal-fueled braziers and at the far end, money changer-gold sales booths; those “manned” by stern-eyed middle-aged ladies.

What to do after the market?

One young Cambodian Tuk Tuk driver had politely followed us throughout the market.

“We don’t want to go back to the ship without some Cambodian adventure,” I told Jeanne.

We cut a deal with the young driver who had shadowed us though the market. Off we chugged, at first doubting the power of the bike to pull all three of us. We had a wonderful adventure.

We stopped at Independence Square. Putt-putted on to Wat Khrom and finally spent a relaxing time at the beach in an open air, Russian-owned beach bar by day and disco by night joint called the airport (a small prop plane hovered over the dance floor.) After beers, cokes and a chat with Russians who couldn’t easily explain the nature of their business in Moscow, Nat, our driver, returned us to the Amsterdam, unharmed, undaunted and delighted at our Cambodian adventure.


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