Bits From The Beach – January 2019

Another of the few Barang drinking establishments remaining in Sinoukville is no longer, Jack and Daniels Bar closed its doors and will become something Chinese orientated of course. It pretty much just leaves the Big Easy and the Monkey Republic as it in that area for places to drink, plus Above Us Only Sky down on the Serendipity end Ochheatal beach, which has been pretty quiet of late.

In the Sinoukville police blotter there has been a fair bit of activity.As it is another month then that means that there has been an- other group/gang fight involving the Chinese. One of the latest is when a group of drunken casino workers came back to their residential compound without the correct identification on them. The Khmer security guards would not let them in and a ruckus ensued with other residents of the accommodation compound ganging up on the Khmer security guards and a fight began which was broken up by the police who made arrests.

Early in the month one of the Sino Overlords died in a testosterone fueled fight when one group visited a local brothel and did not want to wait their turn and a fight with knives erupted with another group who was waiting their turn. This was around the same time as one Chinese restaurant worker stabbed a colleague to death after being insulted, who knew they took their food so seriously. It seems to be a monthly occurrence that yet another Chinese Extortion gang has been arrested with weapons including knives, sticks, handcuffs and a gun.

The big news, which is getting publicity on social media, but seems to be being largely ignored in the press is the state of the beaches. Sokha beach is having a sewerage and image problem with foul water now polluting what was one of the few clean beaches. Mean- while Ochheateal beach is becoming a huge sewerage pond. A Khmer environmental activist recently did a video showing a couple of dozen pipes emptying raw sewerage onto the beach, which eventually runs out to sea. He had the water there tested in Phnom Penh and it was indeed waste water. Swim in the beaches at Sinoukville at your own risk and Typhoid continues to be a risk.

The plight and transformation of Sinoukville is getting some press in foreign media but there is as yet no pressure on authorities to do anything about the poor infrastructure. Articles highlight the rental increases and the impact on Khmers, with quoted locals saying that many people have been forced to move back to the provinces due to increased rents and lack of availability. A couple of Barangs that continue to reside in town are looking for a new place due to one of the highest rent increases we have heard of; the rent on their two bedroom house (located in what is now the booming red light district) will go up from the $500 they negotiated at the start of 2018, to a whopping $4,000 per month.

Maybe it is the high rents that have prevented any noticeable action taking place by any of the task forces that were announced a couple of months ago to help get Sinoukville back on the correct path as they not appear to have been doing anything except collection of salaries. However it must be said that the roads are continuing to be rebuilt, but as yet the much promised improvement in the water supply has not yet taken place.

The rumor mill is in overdrive regarding Koh Rong Sanleom. The current rumor is that the Chinese have leased the whole island, except for M’Paibay village and all the existing businesses will have their leases cancelled. Given that a large Regal comglomerate (heavily aligned with Chinese interests) is supposed to have a lease over the island for 99 years from 2008, gives weight to the rumour, but we will believe it when we see it with this one.

Meanwhile the transformation of a sleepy town that was Kampot into the old Sihanoukville is also taking place so it seems and at a similar speedy pace. There has been a noticeable increase in deaths of Westerners in hotels, often from “Heart Attacks”, which would appear to be bought on by high quality illicit substances. But one poor young guy did it a bit differently, falling from a rooftop, no one knows if it was an accident or a choice.

In addition there have been a few drug busts recently involving Barangs and a token Khmer (usually a female it seems), some of the busts include some very large quantities of substances. How long it will be before the new Kampot becomes the new (current) Sinoukville remains to be seen as the rumour doing the rounds here is that 8 casino licenses have been granted for Kampot. Let us hope that the rumours are not true with this one. We wonder if they will do any good as the Casino on Bokor Mountain is empty and the very hastily refurbished old casino is starting to fall to pieces.

Another rumour is that the Chinese are interested in taking the whole of Fish Island. We are not sure about that one coming off but we note that land prices in and around Kampot continue to rise rapidly and rents are on the increase as well. Commercial rents around the Old Market continue to rise to the point of questionable financial viability for any hardy soul who wants to open a business there.

One of our favourites from Bits from the Beach, the Affable Aussie Dave Ex has reemerged from a hibernation after a couple of rough starts in Kampot, he is (at time of writing) running a small resort in Kep apparently aptly named Bogan Villas. Bets can be made with Kevin at the Bundy Bar on how long before he is Ex Bogan Villa Dave, but we suggest you get your bets on early.

Have the BBQ wars taken their toll? The Texas BBQ café has finally reopened its doors in the new location (near Walkabout). This previously non going concern has been for sale for a while at an ever reducing price, maybe they will have more luck selling it as a going concern. Meanwhile across the river the RazorBack BBQ, located on the riverfront right beside the old bridge is also up for sale at a decent asking price for a business that has only been going a relatively short time.

It seems that sausage wars have broken out between Sinoukville and Kampot. The recently opened JJ’s in Kampot is, according to the owner Big Al, not associated with his late fathers (JJ, John Gir- van) business. The business in Sihanoukville have been re- branded JJ Girv’s to differentiate it from the usurpers and is now a wholesale small goods suppliers. (Editors Note: In a bit of shameless cross advertiser promotion, JJ Girv’s goods are still available from The Pub in street 174 in Phnom Penh).

Speaking of food in Kampot, Kristan at The Dog House, who does tasty great value food specials nearly daily, has been making some very popular English Pork pies, which are going down well with the British community. The Dog House killer pool night on a Wednesday is also becoming more popular.