Swinging in Sihanoukville

The southern coast of Cambodia is home to Sihanoukville, an up and
coming chilled out beach town where people wind up staying much longer
than they originally intended.  During the day tourists lounge on
beach chairs, soaking up the sun and sipping on their favorite fruit
shakes.  Bar sponsored booze cruises depart everyday where tourists
rage to party music, soak up more sun, and slam beers or buckets of
mixed drinks.  It’s a cycle of beach, eat, party, repeat that becomes
contagious as evidenced by the number of people working at the bars in
exchange for accommodation and free booze.

I spent the majority of my time at Serendipity beach, the main and
more crowded beach of the city.  The neighboring Otrez beach is less
crowded and boasts beautiful white sand, well maintained by the
Russians who own the area.  I did not indulge this time, but Otrez is
also home to a variety of special baked goods and shakes, helping to
contribute to its laid back atmosphere.

For the first time in a while I felt compelled to draw on the beach.
This attracted the locals to take a quick break from selling their
fruits, lobsters, and bracelets and watch for a minute, asking the
obvious “Do you draw?”.  This lead to some pleasant conversations and
it felt good to interact with the Cambodians.  The little kids were
especially fun to talk to and I accepted their requests to draw a sea
turtle and dolphin.

The happy dolphin.

The happy dolphin.

After a few days, Kate and I bid each other farewell as she heads east
back to Thailand and then India, and I checked into a place called the
Led Zephyr.

Much to my delight the Zephyr has a stage filled with music equipment,
including a working four piece drum set.  Noticing a band rehearsing
without a drummer, I introduced myself to the members of Swing Theory
and we agreed to try out a set that night.  Following along with the
bass and reading the lead guitarist’s body language for cues, we
grooved for a couple of hours, enjoying the free bar tab and even
making a few bucks off of tips.  We played a variety of reggae, rock,
and Irish ditties, many accompanied by original lyrics about life in
SE Asia.  Banga Lassi and Same Same are two examples of these songs
but my personal favorite was You’re Drunk You’re Drunk, a bawdy
traditional Irish tune lead by Jelly, and old Irish flute player and
signer.  It tells the story of a man who comes home each night, as
drunk as drunk could be, and finds his wife cheating on him a little
bit more until come Sunday, there’s another man’s snake where his
snake used to be.

Video footage of playing Rich’s original Same Same at the Led Zephyr.

I thoroughly enjoyed playing with String Theory and I guess my chops
passed the test as we played the next couple of nights and they asked
me to stay on as the house drummer for a couple of weeks.
Unfortunately I had already booked my bus ticket to Vietnam and paid
for my visa ($60 at the Consulate, all applications are processed in
Sihanoukville and it took less than 20 minutes to receive).  Otherwise
the prospect of drumming every night, and  hanging out with a really
cool bartender during the day, may have been enough to keep me in
Cambodia for another month.

As usual it was bittersweet leaving, saying goodbye to friends of the
past week who seemed like lifelong friends, but knowing that the open
roads of Vietnam are waiting for my first motorcycle tour.