How NOT to Go Skinny-Dipping

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It’s a hot night in Sihanoukville, the sky is lit by the full moon, and the Gulf of Thailand is begging for a midnight dip.

Do full moons lead to uninhibited behavior? Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.  All I know is that a friend of mine, a guy whom I’ll call M, and I have been hanging out with friends at JJ’s, drinking buckets, covering ourselves in full moon paint, and daring each other to do increasingly adventurous things.

I don’t know who brought it up first, but before we knew it, we have dared each other to go skinny-dipping in the Gulf of Thailand.

Adventurous, indeed.

We make our way over to where Serendipity Beach turns into Occhuteal Beach, an area that appears to be deserted.

“You go first,” I tell him.  “I won’t look.”

M strips down and runs into the ocean.  I turn around just in time to see him dive under a wave.  Even all the way from the beach, I can see the huge smile on his face.

I take off my clothes and run in at lightning speed, laughing like crazy.  I feel alive.  This is my world, and I’m going to experience all of it. I dive in.

I’m not even in the ocean for ten seconds when I see the worst image a skinny-dipper could possibly see:

Two kids running toward our pile of clothes.

“F*ck!” M yells.

“Sh*t!” I yelp.

M runs up to the beach, but it’s too late – the kids are gone. I’m dreading the worst, but I can’t bring myself to run to shore.  I stay in the ocean, crouched on tiptoe, the water still up to my neck.

And all of a sudden a woman steps out from behind a tree and starts talking to M.  His hands are clasped awkwardly in front of his crotch and I can’t help it – I giggle a little bit at the ridiculous sight.

And then I look closer and burst out laughing – that’s not a woman.  That’s a ladyboy, baby.

“Are we okay?” I call out.

“Yeah, your stuff’s still here,” he replies.

It’s okay, I am ladyboy!” the ladyboy yells.  I laugh so hard, I have to steady myself with my hands on the ocean floor.

“Okay, here I come!”  I run out of the ocean and scoop up my bathing suit with gratitude, throwing it on faster than I took it off.  All of my stuff is still there.  I lucked out big time.

“They took my pants,” M tells me.  “I have nothing to wear.”

“Did you have money in them?”

“Just twenty bucks.”

“Where’s your underwear?”

It was laundry day!

M finds a long-sleeved shirt half-buried in the sand and ties it around his waist.  It looks like something Toni Braxton would wear to the Grammy’s.

You’re not wearing that,” I told him.  “Wear these.”  I hold out my purple hippie pants.


“I’ve got a long tank top,” I assure him.  “It’ll look like a slutty dress.”

He laughs and throws them on.  A perfect fit.  “Wow, these are really comfortable.”


“I might actually get a pair of these.”

“You should!”

And that’s the story of how I got robbed while skinny-dipping in Cambodia.

Do I regret it?  Nope. I regret nothing on this trip – or ever.  Life’s too short.

It wasn’t the smartest move, though.  When you skinny-dip, you need to go to a beach that’s really abandoned — not quasi-abandoned. And the only place where I’d risk that in Sihanoukville is Sokha Beach, which is part of a private resort.

There are better places to skinny-dip in Southeast Asia than Sihanoukville.  Believe me, I know.  And they’re fantastic.

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