Cambodian dream islands offset nightmare coast

Amid luxury eco-haven, Australian-run charity seeks to restore nature's balance.

Sihanoukville, Cambodia – Even the golden lions look jaded on the Serendipity Beach roundabout in Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s southern coast boomtown.

Breakneck Chinese-led development has choked this town’s once spacious boulevards. Long stretches of the once-pristine coastline are now lined with construction sites. Dozens of cranes soar above a skyline of expensive high-rises and more than 55 casinos that are catering for the gambling habits of a fast-rising tide of Chinese tourists. Another 50 are expected to open within the next year or so, according to local officials, potentially transforming this once laid-back backpacker town into a tropical version of Macau.

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