I started this blog because I had a lot of positive things to say about Sihanoukville. I purposely did not write negative things, but that may have been a little misleading. Like anyplace else, there are positives and negatives about Sihanoukville. I went to my favourite beaches today and took photos of both the positives and negatives. This blog is about trash and treasure in Sihanoukville.
I’m not picking on Sihanoukville alone. When I went to a beach on Bali that didn’t have a trash pickup service, a stream was filled with plastic. You couldn’t even see the water there was so much of it. When the wind blew onshore in Kuta, trash washed up on the beach. They picked it up, but I think they just dumped it at sea again, so it washed in the next time the wind blew onshore.
Sihanoukville is a place of contrasts. I tend to overlook the trash on the beach and focus on the islands and the trees on the headlands where I swim. It’s there, though, and can be hard to overlook. I went to Sokha Beach first. They groom the beach at the resort end and sometimes clean up the trash on the free end of the beach. It piles up quickly, though and they can’t really keep up with it. When you look out to sea, it’s beautiful, but if you focus on the ground, there is trash everywhere.
The same is true of Victory Beach. It’s worse there because there is no resort and no one picks up the trash on one side of the pier. There is a little cafe next to the pier on the other side and a more upmarket one next to that. They pick up the trash on that side of the beach, which is good. Like Sokha, when you take a long look out to sea, it’s beautiful. When you look more closely, you see a lot of trash.
Like I said, I can overlook the trash on the beaches, but I have a harder time overlooking the mega-developments that are happening along the coast. When the beach road was narrow, we used to “go looking” almost every evening. There were just a few motorbikes on the road and it was quite pleasant. Now there are trucks everywhere taking dirt and supplies to the big developments. I took this photograph of one of the developments. There used to be a big field there. Just next to it, cows still graze, but the development is an eyesore in my opinion.
I can overlook the trash, but the developments are getting to me. Sihanoukville used to have a village feel to it. It’s grown in 10 years and while we rarely saw cars even on Ekareach Street, there are almost as many cars as motorbikes on Ekareach Street now. Where there used to be little shops, many have been torn down and taller buildings are being built. There are so many casinos in town now, it’s ridiculous.
If it continues developing at this pace, the time may come when we have to move to someplace quieter. I’d like it to be near the coast because I love to swim, but we’ll see. Steung Hau still has cheap land and long, beautiful beaches. Granted, there aren’t any places that serve cappuccinos or western food there, but that’s a small price to pay for a quieter location. Kampot is another option. There are some beautiful beaches near Kampot and many of them are empty. It will be a longer ride to get to them, but that’s okay. It will be worth it to have an empty beach to swim at. Then again, we may adjust to the changes and stay in Sihanoukville. There is both trash and treasure in Sihanoukville. Time will tell if the trash overtakes the treasure.