The Trouble with Travel Blogs about Sihanoukville

I have a confession to make: the title of this post should be “The Trouble with Travel Blogs”. I just threw “about Sihanoukville” in there for SEO purposes. Now, with that out of the way, I’ll continue with my friendly review of a very nicely put together blog I just stumbled across, Breakfast on Earth. I won’t go into much detail, but these are some of the criticisms I have about travel blogs in general and the entries about Sihanoukville in this blog in particular. The quotes are from the entry, Back to the Beach:

We left Phnom Penh during one of two national ‘festivals’ in Cambodia. What the actual festival was to celebrate was unclear, but what we could surmise is that it means a long weekend for most of the country- like Memorial Day or Labor Day.

Travel blogs are meant to inform. The only information I was able to gather from this was that these travelers weren’t all that interested in learning about the cultures they visit. For your information, Stacey and Dave, Bon Pcchum Ben is far more important than Memorial Day or Labor Day.

The oceanfront is a narrow passenger thoroughfare bordering on claustrophobic. It’s almost as if city officials remembered that the beach is a focal destination only after building the town around it. The brick boardwalk is far too close to the water’s edge, this leaves little room for the masses of beach chairs set out by the local restaurants, and even less space to actually enjoy the waves

Well, you’re half right here, but half right is still wrong. Until Ochheuteal Beach became so popular, it was an afterthought. It was redeveloped a couple of years ago, but not as a sunbaking beach.Cambodians like to stay in the shade. They go to the beach to socialise and splash in the water occasionally, but not to sunbathe. If you wander the length of the beach, you will notice that the “barang” establishments thin out and Cambodian restaurants begin to predominate. Had you stayed for awhile and explored some of the other beaches, you would have found more sand and a far less claustrophobic atmosphere.

Despite the obvious disappointment in not finding a glimmering sandy paradise, Sihanoukville will serve it’s purpose for our final four days in Cambodia.

It’s a shame that “intrepid” backpackers don’t wander off the beaten path. If you had, you could have found “a glimmering sandy paradise” in Sihanoukville. Here’s the proof.

Stacey and Dave seem like nice people and their blog is much better than many travel blogs I reviewed for a travel website I wrote for awhile back. I hope you enjoy your travels, but I think you’ll enjoy them more if you step out of your comfort zone and explore a little more. Getting off the bus and staying at the first place you’re taken to isn’t really wandering (“Wander With Us”) – it’s just hanging out.

 

 

It is something that I have not had enough of on this trip, and something that Sihanoukville has offered up to us in spades. Our regular restaurant is a lazy beachside establishment with little focus on service or on making money for that matter. …
http://www.breakfastonearth.com/ — Thu, 29 Sep 2011 07:05:29 -0700
It was in this fashion that we found our way to the bustling seaside town of Sihanoukville. A tourist draw for both Cambodians and foreigners alike, this was perhaps the least westernized beach town we’ve visited since setting foot in Asia. …
http://www.breakfastonearth.com/ — Thu, 29 Sep 2011 04:30:08 -0700

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About Rob Schneider

Rob Schneider is a writer based in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where he has lived since 2006.

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7 Responses to The Trouble with Travel Blogs about Sihanoukville

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  6. Stacey says:

    I am successfully offended. I assume that was in fact the point of of this entry, and your blatant criticism of my blog :). I’m sorry you clearly didn’t take the time to look at our other entries, as I will solemnly promise that in our travels we do make a huge effort to understand the cultures and customs of the countries we visit. In fact, this effort makes up a fundamental part of our travels. Granted, our time in Sihanoukville was meant as a week to relax from our typical hectic schedules. And mind you, over the many MANY times we asked locals about the details of the holiday weekend, we were unsuccessful at getting any details. You judge harshly. Especially upon a blog that does not advertise, is clearly not trying to make money, and is simply the online journal of two people trying to travel and learn about the world first hand. And with that learning, I mean all of it- the real AND the touristic. Admit it or not, the tourist parts of each place exist for a reason. As for your accusations that we have not wandered off the beaten path, there are a number of countries we’ve visited where I could prove you entirely incorrect. Perhaps we used Sihanoukville as a place to relax and recharge, but your accusations only show your ignorance in research. We have visited many places so far off the tourist path- I’m surprised you didn’t make an effort to at least take a longer look.

    I imagine you can understand the drain that long term travel can bring, and there is no sin in taking some time to simply observe a tourist area and post one’s observations. I urge you to consider in your judgements just how long we’d been traveling at the point we reached Sihanoukville. And in my defense, we are NOT the uninformed travelers you have made us out to be. Look deeper. As I have respect for the work you put into your website, I would hope you could stretch and do the same for our little blog– and it’s just that that– a little blog.

    • Rob says:

      And I am successfully reprimanded. No, I didn’t look past that single entry. Had I done so, I may not have been so harsh. However, you didn’t mention that you were tired or did not fully explore Sihanoukville. Someone who has never been to Sihanoukville would assume that having been here, you had an informed opinion – the tone of your blog suggested you did. You more than implied that Ochheuteal is the only beach in town.

      I’ve seen worse reporting in a major newspaper. Sometime ago, in the travel section of the Sydney Morning Herald, an article appeared stating unequivocally that it was a “ghost town” filled with abandoned half-completed hotels. Obviously that person, who spent exactly one day here, came in the rainy season. You should have seen how I ripped into her. Unfortunately, they chose not to print my letter to the editor, but I hope that “journalist” was at least as insulted as you are.

      This is my home and I get tired of having my home insulted and belittled. I chose to live here instead of Bali because it wasn’t the cookie cutter tourist town virtually the entire island of Bali has become. It is dynamic and changing. Fortunately for me, there are many beautiful, quiet beaches I can retire to when I want to. When those are gone, I think I’ll go too, but until that happens, I find it a fascinating place to live.

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