Sunday, August 5, 2018

Chinese mafia taking over idyllic Sihanoukville in Cambodia

Sihanoukville, or Snooky, is a port city on Cambodia’s coast that was popular with backpackers in the 1990s thanks to its empty beaches - an alternative to the tourist haunts in Thailand. But now the backpackers are being run out of town by a new wave of tourists. Last year 120k Chinese came to the city — four times as many as the previous year. They flock here for one reason, to gamble. 30 casinos cater almost exclusively to Chinese gamblers. Another 70 more are under construction.
Waves of Chinese development have turned Sihanoukville into a construction site. Thousands of Chinese labourers toil around the clock erecting buildings with names such as Blue Bay Casino Condos and Wisney World, a US$1 billion casino and theme park.

More than 6,000 mostly Chinese witnessed the inauguration ceremony of 'Wisney World.'
Shootings are common now. So are assassinations, kidnappings, extortion and brawls — blamed on Chinese tourists and Chinese expatriates. Cambodians are not allowed to enter the casinos unless they work there.

15 years ago Serendipity Beach was pristine. Today rubble-covered land is signposted by billboards with Mandarin lettering and renderings of posh high-rise hotels.