Feb 08 2013
Have you ever wondered what Cambodian families do on weekends? If they’re city dwellers, they pack up the family and go on a picnic. On special occasions, they go to park-like restaurants on the outskirts of town. Until recently, Sihanoukville residents didn’t have such a place to go, but now we do. Perched up on top of a mountain overlooking all of Sihanoukville, from the looks of things, Phnom Meas is set to become our own mini-version of Kampot’s Bokor Mountain — minus the gigantic casino.
So far, just a couple of restaurants and some bungalows are operational, but they are more than enough for daytrippers wanting to relax in a hammock while waiting for their meal to arrive or wander around the maze-like network of pathways that already exist. The gardens have filled in enough to offer shade and you can take your pick of umbrella shaded tables or spacious gazebos. If you like, you can even take a ride on a magic flying sailing ship that has to be one of Cambodia’s most scenic snack bars.
If you like the comfort of other Westerners around you, Phnom Meas may not be for you. But if you’ve come to Cambodia to experience Cambodian culture or want to see something different, it’s well worth going out of your way to take the (very) steep hill up to the top of the mountain and at least have a look around. If you’re a family visiting Sihanoukville, even better. There are seesaws and swings for the kids or they can run freely around, exploring all the nooks and crannies while you relax. The guard at the entrance makes every vehicle stop and once inside, they proceed slowly to the parking area, so it’s one of the few places in Sihanoukville where you don’t have to worry about traffic.
In the end, though, it’s the views that are the main attraction on Phnom Meas. If it catches on as the developers hope it does, the whole area, from the top of the existing cement road all the way to National Route 4, which is now accessible via a wide, dusty dirt road, will be developed and Phnom Meas will really become Sihanoukville’s “Gold Mountain.” Until then, it’s a mellow, relaxing place to visit — if you can find it.
To get there, take Makara Street in downtown Sihanoukville from Ekareach Street until it ends at the T junction with Omui Street about 100 metres past Psar Leu. Turn right on Omui Street and keep going until traffic and buildings thin out. Keep an eye out for the sign on your left. After that, it’s easy. Just take the wide, well-groomed dirt road up the hill until you reach the cement road to the top of Phnom Meas. If you go by tuk tuk, the driver may refuse to attempt to drive up to the top of the steep road. Ours did.
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