Independence Beach Update

It was almost a month ago that I wrote about the big changes going on at Independence Beach. In the second paragraph, I speculated that they might be building a resort. Well, I was right and it looks like it’s going to be another mega-resort and I suppose condominiums. In preparation for the Water Festival, they’ve plastered signs across the site. Not a very good photo, but you can see from the picture that it’s another high-rise beach development.

Either I’m not very observant or they built this building in a hurry because I didn’t notice it last time I passed by. I assume it’s where people are meant to go to find out more about Blue Bay.

It took me about 20 minutes to get from Ekareach Street to the beach yesterday. They were already setting up stalls in anticipation of the Sea Festival, which starts on the 23rd. Trucks unloading products for the stalls were blocking traffic. I couldn’t take any pictures as I crawled through the traffic, but about 50 stalls were already filled with goods. I saw everything from clothes and shoes to gifts and one place was even selling mattresses. They were just getting started along the beach road. I was able to take this photo of one stall. They are all about the same size.

As I made my way towards the Hill, where I was going for my almost nightly meal at Irina Franca, I passed under this banner. It’s much smaller than the one on the other side of the beach, but I was tired of fighting traffic, so I didn’t go back to take a picture of the larger banner.

Also note the now completed sculpture on the left. There’s a wide footpath leading to the Independence Hotel pier. It looks like it’s going to be open to the public.

Next time I’ll give an update on Dao of Life. They’re moving down to the bottom of Serendipity Road. I think it’s a great location. Just have to take a few photos.

Big changes at Independence Beach

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I have no idea what it’s going to look like when they’re done, but Independence Beach is going through some big changes. They’re widening the road, for one thing, but that’s only the beginning.

Construction at Independence Beach SihanoukvilleThey seem to be doing major excavating at one end of the beach. They’re digging deep holes and may be planning on building a resort or something. Tractors were grooming part of the land closer to the Independence Hotel, so perhaps that’s going to be a park. We’ll just have to wait and see. Further along, the little beach restaurants are still there, but they’ve removed the goddess riding on a crocodile’s back I liked so much. They’re building a grander entrance.

Further along, in the area that used to be closed off, it looks like they’re creating public access. I read somewhere that they wanted Sokha Resort and the Independence Hotel to make beach access open to the public. It’s a good idea and I hope that’s what they’re doing.

New Independence Beach Sihanoukville sculptureThey’re also widening the road that leads from Ekareach Street to Independence Beach. It will be super-wide when they’re done and they’ve planted palms down the middle. From what I can tell, they’re attempting to make Independence Beach a major beach: probably to attract more customers to the huge developments that are going up between Independence Beach and Sokha Beach.

widening road to Independence Beach, Sihanoukville Cambodia

In July 2015, I wrote Sihanoukville Cambodia: a metropolis in the making. The article included a photograph of the site of the Sunrise Bay condominium site. There was nothing there at the time, but it seems to be going up fast. This is what it looked like when I rode past the site today.

big condominium development near Independence Beach, SihanoukvilleIt’s still just a shell, but gives you an idea of the scale of the project.

A recent article in the Khmer Times had the title: Up All the Way for Preah Sihanouk. The article quoted the CEO of Century 21 Real Estate, Chrek Soknim. He said improved infrastructure and the airport are attracting big investors. The article also mentioned a $3 billion dollar Chinese development slated for the province. The article didn’t say where it was going to be built, but at that cost, it probably won’t be in the center of town.

The article concluded with a quote from Dith Channa, owner of Lucky Real Estate: “There is only one direction for the province’s property sector, and it’s up all the way.” Whether that’s a good or a bad thing depends on your point of view. It doesn’t matter, though. It’s all happening and all we can do is sit back and watch.

The Sun Shines in Sihanoukville!

The sun shines in Sihanoukville at last! It’s 3:00 on the third straight day of sunny weather. Normally, that wouldn’t be news, but June, July and the first week of August were some of the rainiest I can remember. I usually like the rainy season, but it was wearing thin after two months. For us here in Sihanoukville, it was just an inconvenience, but in flood-prone parts of Cambodia, things got serious.

Saturday started off overcast, but that didn’t stop people from going to the beach:

hawaii beachAs the day progressed, the skies cleared and people were out and about doing everything from fishing to feeding the monkeys on the road next to the Independence Hotel.

fishingAs you can see, the monkeys were out in force. Maybe it was because they hadn’t been able to sponge off passersby for so long or maybe it was because some silly person tossed their bananas into the road instead of on to the side of the road. I don’t know, but they weren’t moving, even for this big car.

monkeysOn Saturday night, we threw a big birthday bash for Kelly at Happy Burger. Way back when Luna had her first birthday party in 2008, I came up with the bright idea of inviting all the village children to birthday parties. Around a dozen attended then. I didn’t factor in the possibility that our village would grow. Nearly three dozen came to Kelly’s party. We commandeered the play area and tables upstairs and left such a mess, I think I’ll avoid Happy Burger for awhile until the staff forgets I was responsible.

party at happy burger, sihanoukvilleAs expected, the party didn’t go without incident, but fortunately, it was a minor one and the girl recovered quickly after her leg got trampled on on the trampoline.

Sunday was a glorious day. Sophie and I were able to escape and spend a few hours at Independence Beach to recover from the party. I went for four swims and got a sunburn in spite of the fact that we were sitting in the shade. Last night, we did something unprecedented and had dinner at Ochheuteal Beach. We went early, so it was actually quite pleasant and relaxing. Speaking of Ochheuteal, I should write something about the Sihanoukville party scene. I noticed today my blog doesn’t get a mention when I google that search term. On the other hand, maybe I won’t. It’s the one thing I don’t like about this town.

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I’ve been wanting to write something about village life in Sihanoukville, but need to take some photos to illustrate what I want to write about. It’s an important subject to me, because if you don’t understand that Sihanoukville is still divided up into about 30 little unofficial villages, you don’t understand the social dynamics of the city. What we lack in central governance, we make up for in the villages. I saw an example of this just the other night, when a couple of drunk men got into a fight. The villagers broke it up. No one went to jail and life went back to normal the next day.

It’s been awhile between posts. As my last blog suggests, I’ve been more interested in events in Gaza than in Sihanoukville and I wrote a flurry of posts on the subject on my new blog, Expat Journal. They were kind of a departure from my usual topics, but that’s why I dropped my old blog in the first place.  Just writing about freelance writing gets boring and repetitive. It’s been a slow crawl getting readers, but my latest post, How to Become a Journalist (a real journalist, that is) has been doing pretty well and a couple of my blogs about Gaza, especially Jews Against Zionism and Debunking Zionist Myths, have been doing well, too. Check it out if you get the chance.

Beaches of Sihanoukville: Independence Beach

The Small Beach Bar

In my last post, I wrote about My New Office at the Small Beach Bar. It was another glorious day today after some on-again-off-again rain throughout the week, so I turned off my computers and took my camera with us to the Small Beach Bar this morning. I overdosed on the sun, but never mind, we had a great day.

The Small Beach Bar is located on Independence Beach, which may or may not be named after the Independence Hotel, Sihanoukville’s “other” 5 Star hotel, along with the Sokha Resort. Fortunately for us plebeians, only a small portion of the beach is reserved for hotel patrons.

Independence Beach looking east from the pier

As you can see, there’s not much beach at Independence Beach, but the photos were taken at high tide. At low tide, you can walk the length of it on flat, hard packed sand. Even at high tide, there’s enough sand for beach lounges. The sea wall is in the process of being repaired, but in the meantime, there are some dodgy but negotiable stairs down to the beach.

What I love most about Independence Beach is the ambiance. Those who go there do so to get away from the crowds of Ochheuteal. It’s usually a mixture of families, couples and individuals who want to enjoy a day at the beach and a good meal. It is run by the owner of the Small Hotel, one of the best guesthouses in the city and one that is renowned for its great food at reasonable prices. Although the Small Beach Bar does include a bar, it’s not the kind of bar where barang park themselves at 10 in the morning and only head for the water to take a leak. Today, there must have been 5 happy families there plus a smattering of couples.

Independence Hotel beach

Independence Beach is not my favourite Sihanoukville beach, but it’s my favourite Sihanoukville Beach with amenities. We used to go to the Airport at Victory Beach because they have wireless, but now that I’ve got my wireless USB connection, we can go anywhere. The Small Beach Bar is ideal because you don’t need to give your possessions or money a second thought: the staff looks after everything for you and the beach doesn’t attract thieves anyway.

I’ve added these and a few more photos to my Sihanoukville Photo Journal. Click the link to view them. Enjoy the photographs and when your come to Sihanoukville, enjoy Independence Beach!