31 Jan 2008
Leng Meng Bungalows, Sihanoukville, Cambodia
A$34/£15 night
10°36'20.39"N 103°31'25.33"E
1 room


Having stayed downtown for a couple of days, we headed to the beach for a bit of chill time before going to Vietnam which is probably going to be full on. When we were looking at different guesthouses and bungalows we had the spookiest meeting - the link is here.

Getting to Serendipity Beach involves a bit of work - there is a dirt track which stretches for about half a kilometer from the road to the beach. Whilst we walked the day we checked them out, we had to get a tuk tuk with the bags. About half way down the dirt track, Peter stopped the driver and we got out and walked the rest of the way - he was convinced we were going to tip over. I wasn't so worried, but it was a really rough ride.

We ended up choosing Leng Meng because it was right on the beach had a large shaded area in the garden with plenty of comfy chairs - more than double the price of the last place we stayed, but the view from the garden and the breeze made it worth every penny. Being able to sit and relax in the shade on the property itself meant that we weren't constantly bothered by kids trying to sell us bracelets and women wanting to give manicures.

Leng Meng only has two accommodation options - with sea view or without. We took the cheap option - it was A$5.60/£2.50 more if you wanted the view. The room was basic but clean and had satellite TV with about 50 channels, a good sized fridge, air conditioning and a fan and a really good powerful shower.

The main criticism about the room was light - or lack of it. The interior was wood lined making the rooms very dark, especially when you were coming in from bright sunlight, and the ceiling light was not very bright. The light above the bed helped a little, but we had to have the bathroom light on and its door open most of the time.

Every evening the sun beds are moved from the beach out front and in their place the comfy chairs were moved out as well as tables and chairs for eating. We didn't try the food so can't comment on the quality or value, but the internet was US$1.25 an hour - everywhere else on the beach and downtown it was only US$1 and hour. 25 cents is not much in monetary terms, but when you look at it in percentage terms, 25% is a fair markup on what everyone else is charging.

There were problems with the power - it went out twice in the three nights we stayed, each time for about an hour. There was a generator but it only powered lights in the garden/bar/eating area. Power outages seem to be a regular problem in Sihanoukville, if not in all of Cambodia.

Another downside were the staff, who weren't particularly friendly or helpful - we were left to our own devices most of the time, had to be quite insistent when we wanted something, and it took me a good 10 minutes of negotiating to get a candle when the power went out at 9.30 one night.

There are innumerable restaurants and cafe's stretching for about a kilometer along the beach front. All had the same mama-san chairs - really comfortable but a killer on my back if I sat in them for too long. All of the eateries had one or two tables inside but most dining was done on the beach. The hawkers and beggars could make it a bit hard unless you learn to ignore them. Every place we tried had fantastic food - mostly western, mostly English (even saw 'chip shop curry sauce'). They were all priced about the same (peanuts) and they all had very long happy hours which made the ridiculously cheap beer even cheaper.

There were a couple of shacks selling essentials like water, crisps and toiletries along the beach front, but no real shops - it was a good couple of kilometers to get to the nearest pharmacy or mini mart which was downtown, but most things you needed could be bought at the shacks, and there were plenty of internet cafes, travel agents and book exchange places which is all you need to chill.

To get downtown took about 45 minutes - up then down a bit of a hill, but paved all the way and enough motorbikes carrying the most ridiculous items to keep you amused while you walked.

Even though it was overpriced, we will come back here again - the view and ambience of the place go a long way to help you relax.