Sihanoukeville, Koh Kong, Kep Cambodia
4.22.11 - 4.26.11 33 °C
Sihanoukville is touristy with a capital T and it got me thinking – So we’re on vacation. Vacation can be defined as “leisure time away from work devoted to rest or pleasure”… Vacation is reserved for those who can afford this “leisure time away from work”… Being here forces me to face my privilege as an American citizen with enough money to be “vacationing”. The locals see us as “rich Americans”. And comparatively, it is true. We have much more money and mobility then the locals we come to meet. As we attempt to do this vacation thing, it is hard to actually escape the realities of the impoverish circumstances of most of the local people here. There is literally local ppl’s homes that look like they have been there forever next to these high rise hotels/resorts which most of them have now blocked the oceanview of the local homes. Its like colonization. What I imagined to be once a peaceful and clean beach has now turned into a bustling busy beach filled with umbrellas, foreigners, trash, merchants, tuk tuks, restaurants named “G’day Mate” etc. At this touristy beach where there are so many white ppl and ppl like us, its kinda hard to separate between how fucked up it is for them to be here and for us to be here. Afterall, both parties are “vacationing” – we are just as guilty. And for those who want to/can afford to turn a blind’s eye to the disparities, can just pay more $$ to stay at a resort with a private beach where it is clean and you wouldn’t be bothered by merchants every few minutes… Which these merchants are trying get theirs/make money off of us/foreigners…it can be annoying to be bothered but at the same time, we are using their land for our leisure. Some would say, well at least its helping their economy… for me, its sad and very conflicting for me to be participating and contributing to the economy thru tourism. This is also a popular place where there was plenty of european men paying for “services” with Khmer womyn. It was disgusting and infuriating to see the sex industry/trafficking so rampant here.
Koh Kong is not touristy or developed like Sihanoukville, so no umbrellas, chairs or beachfront access, but there was one resort. We stayed at this resort for one night – we weren’t escaping explicitly the merchants or trash but nevertheless, it was escaping something. Honestly, it reminded me of home -the bathroom, the cleanliness, nice pool etc. It was definitely comfortable enough for me that I could’ve have pretended that I was in Hawaii or something if I tried a bit.
Kep Beach was definitely touristy but small compared to Sihanoukville. There were so many bugs there!! There was this one huge bug that was like 3-5 inches long in the lobby area. I was gchatting with a friend for the 1st time in HELLA, but got interrupted because I spotted this huge ass bug. One was in the light covering, there was another on the ground next to me. It looked like it was dead but then it started to move and it freaked me out. Then as I was telling my friend that I had to go, another one like ran under our table by our feet. AHHHH. I could barely sleep that night.