Sihanoukville is a young beach destination located on the Gulf of Thailand.
But the city’s creation is not a direct product of its natural beauty. Instead, it was for strategic reasons that work began here in the mid-1950’s — to create Cambodia’s first deep-water shipping port. This was significant because with the creation of this port city, Cambodia would no longer have to channel international trade through Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.
Named for then-king Norodom Sihanouk, the town is now a tourist destination for both Cambodians and foreigners. There are multiple beaches here, and by all accounts they vary considerably in terms of cleanliness and people traffic.
One feature common to sun-seekers by day and beach diners by night is the constant presence of young children selling goods such as woven bracelets and “rockets”, or fireworks. There are also adults who move table to table asking for money. A tipped hat is often extended by a good arm, but beyond that, the other arm is partially amputated. Several of those who come out day after day have no legs. They lift and push their bodies through the sand with the strength of their arms and their will, then extend a cap for money.
All of these people offer reminders of the hard years suffered by most of the population in this country. While landmines are not the constant threat they once were, the threat remains. And the damage done will never be forgotten by people who live each day reminded by personal loss.