Recap: Winter in Cambodia

So I haven’t written in this blog in a long time, but it’s time to fire it up again now that I’m back on the road. I spent my winter in Cambodia (again) to play poker. Unfortunately this year was not as successful as last year as more pros came in from China and the rake had increased (surprised thats even possible) and the cost of living went up as well due to a housing shortage. And I just ran worse against the whales in big pots in general. The town of Sihanoukville has been turned into a giant trash heap with all the construction, litter, dust, broken roads, sewage, etc. It really is a shame what’s been done to it. Maybe it can recover in a few years after the construction boom is over, I doubt it, but we’ll see.

Don’t get a hotel without seeing what’s around it!

Don’t get a hotel without seeing what’s around it!

massive trucks everywhere, wreaking havoc on the roads

massive trucks everywhere, wreaking havoc on the roads

Giant puddles everywhere, even when it hasn’t rained in days

Giant puddles everywhere, even when it hasn’t rained in days

Hard to avoid the potholes when you can’t see them!

Hard to avoid the potholes when you can’t see them!

_MG_8708.jpg
just off the main beach, gross

just off the main beach, gross

So as you can see, the city is undergoing some, uhh, changes. Of course it’s not all bad, I bought a motorcycle and learned how to ride it (really just learning how to use the clutch) which was fun. I was hoping to find an open paved space somewhere in the city to practice, but those really don’t exist in Sihanoukville! So the first day or two I had some fairly nerve wracking experiences stalling out in traffic. But there’s always something getting in the way of traffic in cambodia and people are very used to it! A car turns out in front of you, making you slam on the brakes? A truck forces you off into the shoulder? A cow runs into the road? A delivery truck blocks the entire road? These are just all everyday occurrences on Cambodian roads, so people really aren’t bothered by a stalled bike for a couple of seconds, ha!

The main part of the city is mostly terrible, but of course you can still get out a little bit and find some decent places that haven’t been totally ruined! A few kilometers outside of town is Otres beach, which is lots of little guesthouses and bungalows with cheap beer and lounge chairs on the beach, and that’s still okay. It will probably all be knocked down in a year or two, so I’ll enjoy it while I can. The road getting out there is hell though. There’s also Independence beach which has a really nice tourist pier and is great for watching sunsets. Plus the pool at my gym is pretty great and I can do steam/sauna/massage for like $12 so I can’t complain about that!

next to the fancy new seaside restaurant at Independence Beach

next to the fancy new seaside restaurant at Independence Beach

The pier

The pier

Mango seller

Mango seller

Different pier where the locals live

Different pier where the locals live

fish fry

fish fry

Can’t throw a stone without hitting a casino

Can’t throw a stone without hitting a casino

the new Xifu resort and it’s spectacular surroundings

the new Xifu resort and it’s spectacular surroundings

_MG_8951.jpg
My pool

My pool

So that’s what Sihanoukville looks like nowadays. I of course had to leave before rainy season hit, as it rains all day and everything floods. This year was apparently much worse for flooding, as whatever green spaces that were left to soak up rainwater have all been covered in concrete. It was also a terrible year for dengue fever which is caused by mosquitos, and when there’s lots of stagnant water… you know what happens. So that was my last memory of Sihanoukville, going on a massive downswing and then getting Dengue fever. It was strange I had a fever one night, some pain behind my eyeballs, and some red bumps on my arms. That didn’t last long though, the main thing was just complete exhaustion.

I literally laid in bed in for a week+ like half asleep, hardly any appetite, and every once in a while willing myself out of bed to get groceries or a smoothie. I eventually went to the doctor and after a blood test, results were in: the Dengue. He gave me some pain pills and electrolytes and sent me on my way. It’s a virus, so not much you can really do besides ride it out. After that I went to Phnom Penh for a few days to recover a bit more, then flew home, limping my way out of Cambodia with a lighter wallet and struggling health. I ended up flying to Vegas for a few days before getting home home!