While I was out swimming at Otres Beach today, I noticed black plumes of smoke in the distance. It was definitely a big fire, but it looked much further away than the Golden Lions. I thought maybe it was in the port area and then, frankly, forgot all about it. When I got home a couple of hours later, I discovered the fire had destroyed several popular Sihanoukville backpacker hangouts, including Mick & Craig’s, Monkey Republic and the Dive Shop.
I didn’t get the names at the time, but was just told the fire was “close Ana Internet,” so I jumped back on my motorbike and rode over to have a look. Foolishly, I let 6 year old Lita and 5 year old Luna talk me into taking them with me. After getting a few photos, I realised what a bad idea that had been and took them back home. There were way too many people, motorbikes, cars and fire trucks to make me feel like the girls were safe.
I don’t have any verifiable details about the fire, but according to family members who went there, it started at about noon; the cause was a short circuit or other electrical problem; and the fire trucks, which are stationed outside of town in Klang Leu, didn’t arrive until 2 hours later. At first I was told that 5 businesses were destroyed, but later the number was upped to 9. I only saw the 5, but apparently several others were behind the street front businesses.
Mick & Craig’s and Monkey Republic were Sihanoukville institutions that thrived even back when Sihanoukville was far less popular than it is today. They were the kinds of businesses I thought would be there forever. They were in a prime location and had nice long leases. What could possibly go wrong? All I know of the Dive Shop is that once when I went in asking for information, the proprietor invited me to go out to the islands on a clean up day with him. I had to pass, but appreciated the offer.
Well I won’t jabber on. When and if I hear more, I’ll update this post. In the meantime, here are some photos I took with my phone.