Serendipity Road Revisited

Looking up Serendipity Road from the bottom

I’ve been having my afternoon coffee at Escape lately. I still like Artisan, but the sun is lower at this time of year and it’s sometimes hard to find a place in the shade. After two weeks of watching tourists, I decided it was time for a Serendipity Road revisited post.

Golden Lions, Sihanoukville Cambodia

It’s easy for me to step back in time and remember the first time I saw Serendipity Road. It was a narrow, rutted dirt road the first time I saw it. I was on a rented motorbike. I decided my motorbike skills weren’t up to the task of negotiating the road, so I continued up Ekareach Street. At that time, there was almost no traffic in Sihanoukville and most of it was motorbikes. Times have changed. Even at 1:00 p.m., when traffic is slowest, there were plenty of cars and motorbikes on Ekareach Street. As you’ll soon see, there were also a lot on Serendipity Road.

I took this photo to show that they’ve widened the top of Serendipity Road. They didn’t widen it as radically as planned, but the extra width helps. There used to be bottlenecks as you approached the Golden Lions. You still have to go around cars and sometimes buses, but the bottlenecks aren’t as bad as they used to be.

Serendipity Road Sihanoukville Cambodia top

Before continuing down to the pier, I stopped for a cappuccino at Escape. Actually I had two cappuccinos and a bottle of water. I’m reading a brilliant book and I couldn’t put it down. After an hour or so, I forced myself to leave, but not before I took this picture. It’s not as dark as it appears in the shade of Escape, but this is the view. Basically, the view is of the passing traffic. When I came here, most of the traffic was male and white. Today, we get tourists of all ages, sizes and races. As many women visit as men and I often see families and groups of older women.

Serendipity-Road-from Escape

I had to stop and take a photo from the top of Serendipity Road where it goes down to the pier. They paved it recently, which was a good idea. The old cement road was crumbling under the weight of the cars and trucks that rolled down it. Building is still going on on the road and some of the buildings are big.

Serendipity Road Sihanoukville looking towards the pier

New hotels on Serendipity Road, Sihanoukville Cambodia

Finally I reached the bottom of the hill, where I took a photograph of the pier. You can see the boats, but the throngs of people on the pier are a little harder to see.

Pier at the bottom of Serendipity Road, Sihanoukville Cambodia

Then I turned around and took this photo up the road. The bottom of Serendipity Road is clogged with tuk-tuks, motorbikes and cars. That’s the main reason why I rarely go to Yasmine for coffee. The views are nice, but it’s hard to find a place to park.

Looking up Serendipity Road from the bottom

I came back from my little tour of Serendipity Road marveling at how much it’s changed in just ten years. Sihanoukville was a haven for backpackers looking for cheap accommodation, cheap beer, cheap drugs and, sometimes, cheap prostitutes. I didn’t like walking down Serendipity Road in the past. Every tuk-tuk driver said, “Want drugs? Want girl?” They don’t say that anymore. They just say, “tuk-tuk?” The tourists are mellower, too. They seem to be here to enjoy the sun, the water and the islands.

The city is growing faster than I’d like, but I have to admit, it’s improving every year. One thing I love about it is that visitors come from everywhere. You see Chinese, Japanese, Korean, European, American and Australian tourists here. Most of the time, I don’t understand a word I hear around me when I’m having my daily cappuccino. Sometimes I recognize the language, but I have no idea what they’re talking about. I like the cultural mix. I think I’ll be staying here for a long time to come. As my book, Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese says: “Wasn’t that the definition of home? Not where you are from, but where you are wanted.” I have a family here and feel wanted. This is my home until or unless something changes.

What’s New on Sihanoukville’s Serendipity Beach Road

Nataya Resort, Sihanoukville Cambodia

The last time I reported on Sihanoukville’s Serendipity Beach Road (or Serendipity Road, if you like), it was to cover the fire that destroyed Mick & Craig’s, Monkey Republic, the Dive Shop and adjoining properties at the top of Mithona Road, which seems to have been renamed Serendipity Road by some interested parties. Anyway, I’m happy to say that work is proceeding rapidly on Mick & Craig’s and the Dive Shop seems to be near completion. Monkey Republic is fenced in and I couldn’t see any real signs of construction. With that out of the way, let’s move on to the cement road I call Serendipity Road.

Mick & Craig's on Serendipity Road, Sihanoukville Cambodia

Mick & Craig’s taking shape after the fire.

I mentioned a new complex at the top of the road awhile ago. The garden has filled in, the shops are thriving and the resort and restaurant at the top of the complex seem to have been discovered. The resort is called Blue Sea Boutique Resort and the restaurant trendily named “Pure.” I’m not sure if it’s operational yet or how well it’s doing, but will take a closer look as soon as I get a chance.

Blue Sea Resort and complex, Sihanoukville Cambodia

Moving along, I’m sorry to say that one of the last remaining timber structures, the one that housed Le Bistro Gourmand, has been torn down. It was just a matter of time, but I used to really enjoy having breakfast there. It will be interesting to see what they erect to replace it, but one thing’s for sure, whatever it is, it will be dwarfed by the nearly completed Nataya Holiday Villa. The photo below doesn’t really do the size of the resort justice. You can get a peak of the back of the hotel from Mithona Road and it looks like most of the rooms are behind its impressive front.

Nataya Resort, Sihanoukville Cambodia

Once it opens, Nataya will take over from Serendipity Beach Resort as the road’s biggest and most luxurious accommodation, but it looks like Serendipity Beach Resort will soon have another rival to contend with right next door. So far, it’s just a bunch of sticks and concrete, but that’s a lot more than was there just a month or so ago, so it looks like they’re moving full steam ahead.

New hotel on Serendipity Road, Sihanoukville, Cambodia

And that brings us to the bottom of the hill but not the end of what’s new on Sihanoukville’s Serendipity Beach Road. In fact, the “road” is being extended even further out on to the pier, which is being lengthened considerably.

Pier at Serendipity Beach, Sihanoukville Cambodia

Stepping off the pier and into the water, the Bali/Thailand-style upmarket health and yoga retreat set will be pleased to know that Akaryn Hospitality Management Services (AHMS), owner of 3 successful island resorts elsewhere, has announced plans to build a similar resort on Koh Krabeay. Called Akaryn Koh Krabeay Retreat & Spa, it’s scheduled to open in 2015. According to AHMS founder Anchalika Kijkanakorn as reported in the Thailand edition of the Nation:

The exciting thing about this project is that it gives us an opportunity to define, refine, innovate and create the ideal destination holistic and medical spa that redefines how we live today and equips the guest with tools they can use upon returning home to incorporate these measures and wisdoms into their daily lives.

It’s a good bet accommodation at this resort will probably be a lot more expensive than the many bungalows that have sprouted up on Koh Rong or Belinda Beach Lovely Resort on Koh Sdach, but not as expensive as a night on Song Saa Private Island.

Back on the mainland, her are some Sihanoukville accommodations on and around Serendipity Road you can check out:

Ocean Walk Inn
Coolabah Resort
Sea View Villa
Koh Pos Guesthouse