Fundamentally, a beach town is just a road running parallel to a sandy seaside that has a row of cheap hotels, some restaurants, and a quicky mart with a well stocked cooler of beer. Anything more than this is a town on a beach. Add some money to the mix and it’s a resort.
Beach towns range from some of the most horrid places on earth — Taganga — to some of the most enjoyable. The difference between the two is generally the quantity of people trying to sell you shit. Even the most pristine and beautiful natural scenes are quickly rendered moot if every thirty seconds you have to tell someone how much you really, truly, seriously do not want their tour, coconuts, narcotics, vagina.
So when I happen to find myself with a day or so of rec travel I aim for a certain type of beach. I believe you can call it a port beach — a working beach with boats, fishermen, and churning industries that are unrelated to tourism. These places are usually look a little rough and they keep the masses of tourists and their trailing urchins at bay. The people with the money who are on vacation go the nice beaches to be bothered and robbed; I sit on the shitty beach in the shade, looking out at a glistening sea, and sipping a cold beer all by myself.
Nobody is trying to sell me anything here at Victory Beach in Sihanoukville, and if I don’t count the tuk-tuk driver who just urinated uncomfortably nearby, nobody bothers me. I can relax, plan some meetings, and write.
There’s garbage around my feet — plastic bottles, cups, and baggies from an array of picnics past. There’s a chewed up chunk of buoy to my left. The people consist of representatives from the resident contingent of drunken expats — those old bastards — who are hanging out on the beach before the girlie bars open, one old fat European lady in a one piece bathing suit, and a few local families who are jovially sitting around in circles eating lunch together. Kids are playing in the waves. There are palm and banyan trees providing shade.
I can just hang out on a disintegrating concrete embankment, sitting in the breeze, enjoying the moments. This is my kind of beach town.
One of the old bastards just removed his swimming trucks.
I like my job. I go wherever I want in search of stories. But I hate being away from my family. When I’m in a rough, half-built-no-man’s-land I don’t feel too bad about being away from them. Nobody would want to be with me in most of the places I go — the least of which being my wife and kids. But every once in a while I come upon a place that’s relaxed, has everything you need, and a nice view to top it off, and I start thinking about how much my six year old daughter would like to be playing in the waves with the little Cambodian kids or how my wife would like to be sitting on this beach doing nothing, and I start to feel like there’s something missing.