Our New Year’s Eve 2012 in Sihanoukville
Every year, since 2009, I and my family always go to Sihanoukville to celebrate New Year’s Eve. It is a great event because many local and foreign visitors spend their time together on 31 December till past mid-night. The beach is usually full of visitors and it is difficult to get accommodation rooms reserved. It is our third year, in 2011. This year is a special one, because the Ministry of Tourism is organizing the First Sea Festival, which was presided over by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and Tourism Minister Thorng Khon. The beaches of Cambodia are recently becoming member of the Club of Beautiful Beaches in the world. It is one of the reasons that the government is organizing this special event to promote tourism and Sihanoukville as beach destination to the outside world. Flights between Siem Reap Angkor and Sihanoukville has been resumed shortly before.
Many people came and visited this festival. A lot of events such as: music concerts, modes show, 116 stores including food and drink stores, travel agencies, trade fairs, boxing, volley ball, and other water sports activities, and fabulous fireworks were on the program. For most visitors, they started own fireworks right away after getting dark, from 6pm till well past mid night. All the 231 hotel’s and guesthouse’s rooms are fully booked. It is estimated that around 100,000 people coming to SHV. Some people (around 10%) did need to sleep in an open air thousands stars hotel or at the beach. Since many tourists were coming, everything becomes expensive. I have reserved our rooms two months ago. One Single Air-con room costs 40 U$ (normal price: 12 U$), double bed: 60 U$ (15U$), and triple bed: 70 U$ (20 U$). But, we have no choice. At the beach, a place for seating (one table and ten chairs) costs 40 U$ (normal price: 5 U$). It is the law of “supply and demand” of the free market economy in practice. Besides, there were many cars and other transportation means which caused traffic jams in some sections of the city, though it was well organized by event organizer and polices. Big THANKS to all of them, who suffered their holidays to be on duties so that we could enjoy this great event in a very peaceful way.
Despite the high prices we have to pay, we are very satisfied with the unique and most joyful atmosphere we experienced. I think all visitors were happy. On the way back the next day, many people walked to cross the newly built bridge connecting mainland and snake island. It was also traffic jams here.
It is important to note that I firstly came to Sihanoukville in 1980. I could remember that there were plenty of thick forests along the national road # 4. Only very few thousands of people were living in the almost “ghost city”, especially around Phsar Leu area. Currently, the forests along the road are replaced by houses and big farms. The city is developing fast and hundred thousands of inhabitants flock to this white sand beach city. There are several beaches such as: Lumher Kay, Ekareach, Sokha, Oh Chheuteal and Oh Treh beaches. Sokha beach was the most popular for Cambodians until it was taken away to be given to Sokha Group for building a luxury hotel in early 2000. We have to share the Oh Chheuteal beach now with our foreign tourists.
We went back to Phnom Penh by going via Kampot province and visiting the Bokor mountain, a famous hotel and casino resort before the war. Currently, the construction is underway to renovate the building, to reconstruct the road and the hotel complex again. More details on Bokor in my next post.