Although not renowned for being Asia’s finest beach, Sihanoukville offers a haven away from the bustling streets of Siem Reap or Phnom Penh, with clear blue sea and white sandy beaches! Whilst there we spent one day at Otres beach and another on a boat trip out to some local islands (including ‘Bamboo Island’) where we were cooked fresh fish (barracuda) barbecue and relaxed on the shore. We also had the chance to snorkel when the boat pulled in to a small bay, which was awesome as there was definitely lots to see.
I ended up with my first injury when a seemingly harmless game of ‘let’s tickle Alys’ feet’ ending in me kicking out my foot.. straight in to a large lump of coral. Yeah, that fluffy and pristine underwater decoration? It bites! Coral cuts are nasty and can sometimes end with you having bits of coral stuck inside you which can lead to a whole world of problems! I knew my ankle hurt but didn’t realise the damage until back on the boat and saw that my foot was rapidly dyeing the boat red. After soaking it in a bit of salty sea water, the bleeding seemed to lessen but I was left with a nasty looking gash right across my ankle bone.. OUCH.
Things kind of went from bad to worse after that. Later in the day I tried to swim after my friends who had swam out 20 or so metres and were swimming along parallel to the shore. After not quite swimming far out enough and trying to cut across too soon, I ended up running (well, swimming..) into another batch of coral. In my panic to try and swim away and the waves moving me further into the coral, I ended up covered in deep scratches across my arms and legs.
To make matters worse, I then stood on a sea urchin; worst. pain. ever! A searing hot pain shot though my entire right leg (conveniently the same one that was injured already) and my whole leg went numb. I then had to try and swim through the coral, back to shore, with only one working leg! I kept going underwater and was swallowing more sea water than I cared to; pretty scary. By the time I reached the shore, I was exhausted and collapsed on the first square of available sand. My tour friends ran over and dragged me to a bench before signalling to a couple of local men who were walking past to come and help.
Sea Urchins (aka Bastards of the Sea) shoot a spine into your skin when touched which needs to be removed very carefully. If pulled without care, part of the spine can remain inside, which can lead to infection and even paralysis in some cases! Luckily, the local men knew what to do and propped my leg on a tree stump before dashing off into the nearby shrubbery. Two minutes later, they appeared and began hitting the stick against my foot, just above the wound. After about ten minutes of this, the stinger was worked out from my foot. One thing that can definitely be said about Cambodia – the people are lovely and amongst the kindest I met on my travels. I guess this is one good example of that!
Alongside my coral cut, Sea Urchin sting and near-death drowning experience (which has left me with a phobia of swimming/ snorkelling in deep open sea water!!), I also managed to get horrifically sunburnt. So much so that the hotel actually ran me an ice bath to sit in!
Despite my unfortunate time in Sihanoukville, I would definitely go back as the beaches were lovely and the boat trip was a lot of fun. Regular flights have recently opened up in to Sihanoukville (we suffered a long bus journey at the time!) which means that its foot-flow is only likely to increase further. I also had some great massages in the local spas, which were around £3-4 for half an hour, and there are some great little restaurants/ shacks along the beach. It’s definitely worth a visit!
Next stop on the G Adventure’s Indochina Discovery tour was Ho Chi Minh City!