Musings, Travel & Adventure

Good Decisions, Good Friends

Our last weekend in Cambodia, we headed south to the beach town of Sihanoukville off the Coast of Thailand. It was a pretty awesome way to conclude our first two weeks of training and transition to the next two.

After a four-hour bus ride from Phnom Penh, we arrived Friday afternoon and caught a tuk-tuk to — well, we didn’t really know where, so we just told him to take us to a “beach.” He gave us several options, noted our confusion, and just took off with us in tow. It’s just better that way sometimes.

On the drive, I was struck by the difference between the bustle of Phnom Penh and the relatively open streets of Sihanoukville. After living in Phnom Penh for two weeks, Sihanoukville seemed almost quiet in comparison. Almost. The tuk-tuk driver dropped us off at Serendipity Beach, the most crowded beach in town. It is lined by a row of thatched restaurants, so after a couple of coconut shakes and one too many vendors trying to sell us goods, we were ready to move on. We caught another tuk-tuk to Independence Beach, which turned out to be the best decision of the day. It was open, clean, and uncrowded, free of vendors and sporting only one or two quiet restaurants — basically everything Serendipity Beach was not — and to boot, showed off the most beautiful sunset I have seen since arriving in Southeast Asia. See evidence:

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Saturday was the real treat. We had seen signs everywhere advertising a boat which would take us from Sihanoukville to the island of Koh Rong and back. (Personally I was especially drawn in by the offer of free food and coffee on the boat!) Sixteen members of our group signed up to go. The boat left at 9:30 a.m. and, after about an hour and a half, anchored to let passengers jump off the top of the boat, snorkel, or swim. Then the boat continued on to the island for the afternoon. This was definitely the best decision of the weekend: Greeting us was a gorgeous little island with white sand beaches, a handful of bungalows and an open-air restaurant or two. My only decision at this point was which awesome thing to do first: Swim? Hike to a waterfall? Have a cocktail? Eat my first cheeseburger since leaving America?

In the end, I ended up doing all of these things, almost in that order. And the cheeseburger was amazing.

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The only bad decision I made was somehow putting sunscreen everywhere except the back of my knees. What the heck? I am Norwegian. And sort of a redhead. I don’t mess around with sunburns.

Speaking of decisions, I think the best decision of all was decided to come over to Southeast Asia and do this whole adventure thing. So far, it’s been amazing. I loved my time in Cambodia, and I have made some pretty awesome friends in the process, whom I hope to keep in touch with throughout our travels. That was a bonus I wasn’t expecting when I signed up to do this.

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From here, the adventure continues: Teaching in Thailand!

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