Sihanoukville is definitely not off the beaten path. It's easy to become a disgruntled & cynical tourist here. The beautiful beaches are spoiled by garbage; your peaceful lounge with an umbrella drink interrupted constantly by women & children who want to sell you trinkets, a pedicure or massage. I tell myself they're just trying to survive as best they know how, and close my eyes, feigning sleep so they'll leave me alone. Then I open my eyes & see this beautiful, grubby little child, not selling anything, just going about his business, in his dirty t-shirt & solitary shoe. I'm reminded of the standard of living here, & why people are pestering me to buy. When the sun fades & I leave the beach for a shower & dinner, they're left to go home & tend to their children, maybe find the other shoe. Heart opened.
By Monica Hahn
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Sihanoukville at Sunset
Sihanoukville is most beautiful at sunset, when the fading light is no longer strong enough to harshly point out the lines on the beggar's face, the disappointment in her eyes when you say no, or the dirty tshirt her baby wears. It's harder to make out the piles of garbage, or the general shabbiness of even the best hotels. And of course the sun paints these amazing poofy clouds infinite shades of pink & periwinkle. If the mosquitoes don't carry you off, or infect you with dengue & malaria, you're all set for a lovely evening.
By Monica Hahn