I’ve read a barrage of stories about Sihanoukville recently. The one thing they all have in common is that they support my recent contention that Sihanoukville is a metropolis in the making. Unfortunately, some of my reading has been in print media and I can’t find the articles online, so you’ll just have to trust me.
It started when I read that Sihanoukville Airport was being upgraded to accommodate international flights. This was always the plan, but it’s been a long-range project. Now the funds have been allocated and work can begin, apparently.
In other transportation news, I read an announcement that an expressway is going to be built to link Sihanoukville with Phnom Penh. It’s funded by the Chinese government and is expected to be completed by 2020, according to the Bangkok Post. It takes about 4 1/2 hours to drive to Sihanoukville on the dreaded Route 4. Driving time is expected to be cut to 3 hours on the new expressway. Since it will have lanes, there will probably be fewer accidents, too.
Although it’s not important to the casual visitor, the recent agreement with China to start shipping directly to Sihanoukville Autonomous Port is huge news for Cambodia. It could turn the port into a major port. Two of China’s biggest ocean freight companies signed the deal. It must be annoying to Vietnam, because now Chinese container ships won’t have to stop in Vietnam first. I got this info from MarineLink.com.
Although not quite as dramatic as the other articles I’ve read, it’s noteworthy the largest ocean liner ever visited our shores recently. When I first came here, ocean liner’s of any size were a novelty and we used to ride down to the park near the port to look at them. Then they became so commonplace, we didn’t bother any more. The Dawn Princess was big enough to draw a crowd, though, according to the Khmer Times.
And finally, I read in this morning’s print edition of the Khmer Times that construction of the mega-resort on Koh Rong has begun. As always happens with big construction projects anywhere in the world, the locals are the biggest losers. They have organised in an effort to keep the development from encroaching on their land and preventing them from growing the crops that are their livelihood. There’s also some concern that the developers will not honour their commitment to preserving the jungles on the island.
As is true everywhere, growth is a mixed blessing/curse. While growth means jobs, it also mean pollution, overcrowded conditions and a skewed distribution of wealth, power and influence. I can’t turn back the clock, but we are talking about selling our house and moving to a more rural area within shouting distance of Sihanoukville. It’s kind of a compromise. Sophie would rather live in the country, but she knows the kids need access to education and I’m too much of a wimp to handle life in rural Cambodia and need my internet connection and cappuccinos to make a living. It’s fascinating living here, though. You never know what to expect.