2008 is coming to an end soon, and it's been a great year in SihanoukVille.
Worldwide recession, sky high gas prices, food costs skyrocketing, a one day border war, now the main airport in Thailand is shut down, (and the secondary one) where everyone transfers to and from Cambodia, visa renewals for tourists and businesspeople wishing to remain in Cambodia have stopped, and yet the rain in the dry season hasn't, yet tourism is still booming here.
Several dozen new guesthouses, hotels and resorts, restaurants, tour companies, and entertainment venues have opened in town, prices are coming down, the weather is improving, and SihanoukVille is only getting more popular.
Ocheteaul and Serendipity Beaches have seen the biggest improvements, with a number of both backpacker guesthouses and mini-resorts moving in. The restaurant selection has tripled in the last year.
The new airport is opened? but doesn't have any flights yet, except for charters. This year has seen the most visitors from cruise ships, and 2009 should be even better. All the world's navies want to be friends with SihanoukVille, and we've even seen the first Chinese naval ship in the county. Also, the American, French, Australian, and Indian navies have been here.
The number of Casinos has quadrupled in the last year, and one more (at least) is due soon. Cambodia's first inland sea marina is almost finished, and Cambodia's first bridge between the mainland and an island has started. The tallest building in SihanoukVille, and once all of Asia, the 7 story hotel at Independence Beach was renovated and newly opened for the first time in a couple decades.
During all the big holiday weekends and weeks, all the rooms in town were filled, with people sleeping on the beach as well. (take note: Christmas / New Years is coming up. Think "reservations").
2009, see you soon!
Another day in Paradise.