Koh Rong Sanloem and Koh Rong

21 Oct

While I had a good sleep in Sihanoukville, I woke up feeling pretty terrible and I wasn’t the only one. A few of us were definitely struggling with head colds, simply just from traveling and lack of sleep I assume. We walked down to the ferry, just five minutes from the hostel, and took the speed boat over to Koh Rong Sanloem, the smaller and less inhabited of the islands. After about a 45 minute ferry ride we arrived at the pier and were picked up by the Mad Monkey hostel’s boat, which took us to their portion of the island. The island is completely gorgeous, mostly untouched and filled with jungle, except for small huts that dot the coast. The calm emerald green water sits perfectly clear atop white sand. While others said they’ve seen clearer, it was certainly the clearest water I’ve ever seen. The day we arrived was exceptionally sunny, which had not been the case for many days before we came. Those before us experienced days of endless rain and couldn’t actually enjoy the beauty of the island they were on. We were definitely lucky. After about 15 minutes we arrived at the hostel, which has a much more sleepy and leisurely atmosphere than the other Mad Monkey hostels. The main hangout/restaurant portion of the hostel is completely open and looks out over the water and our dorm room was only constructed with three walls, allowing you to sleep openly with the sounds of the water and nightly rain. I actually had surprisingly excellent sleeps in this hostel. 

We spent the day in the water, sitting in hammocks and laying out on the dock. Afterwards, we all read or slept about the place in bean bags, catching up on some needed downtime. After my nap, however, I woke up feeling even worse than before with a massive headache that, even after some Advil, lasted dully throughout the night, making me a dud spud for the evening and sending me to bed early after eating some delicious fish Amok, a meal steamed in banana leaves with a curry sauce.

The following day, Dominique, Amy, Nikki and I decided to venture away from the hostel and find the Lazy Beach, located on the other side of the island. After breakfast, we took the hostel’s boat to the main pier, where we got a little bit of wifi fill before walking along the shore to find the path to the Lazy Beach. We basically walked through the jungle to get there, seeing massive insects and even a monkey, before arriving at the gated entrance. The beach was completely perfect and nearly empty. After a long swim and a bit of sun we went to the only restaurant on this part of the island for lunch. Just as we were finishing up lunch the rain started up, so we hung around for a bit inside, chatting over coffee. When it was time to head back to the main pier to catch the last boat, it was still raining and we had to trek through the jungle in the rain, making it to coverage just before the downpour. The boat was late to show up and when it did it and we got in, they told us they were waiting for the supply boat and it would take 30 more minutes. Since the island doesn’t have any suppliers of its own, a supply ship comes in every afternoon at four o’clock with supplies for the whole island, and boats from each hostel or home or restaurant, come over to the main pier then to get their supplies. Given the rain, the supply boat was delayed about an hour and by the time it had showed up we had been waiting in the restaurant for about two hours. One man scared us telling us that the boat had left, so we took off running down the pier to the Mad Monkey boat. As we approached we saw about thirty Cambodian people, that seemed to appear out of nowhere, working their fastest to unload and load items from the supply boat to their boat. We felt completely in the way standing in the pouring rain. After the men had put the supplies onto the Mad Monkey boat, which included massive amounts of beer and toilet paper as well as a mattress, we were guided on and taken back in the darkness of night, soaking wet, freezing and wishing we could get a hot shower. It was certainly an adventure. 

That night I was feeling better and able to drink and after some delicious Cambodian curry, a few beers and few card games, we played a game of Beer Cricket which involves two teams of people throwing a bean bag at a water bottle. Each person on a team has a beer and if your teammate knocks down the water bottle with the bean bag, every member on your team starts to chug their beer until two members of the opposing team put the water bottle back in its position and return the bean bag to their side. At that point, the referee yells stop and you put you beer back down. Whichever team hits the bottle enough times to get everyone to complete their beers wins. Confusing and strange? Yes. But definitely a good time. The following morning Angela, Ilana, Jess, Calum and myself took the hostel boat to one of the main piers to get a boat to Koh Rong, the main island. The boat we were attempting to take didn’t show up and after lot of arguing with the Cambodian men who laughed at our anger, we accepted that we would have to wait a few hours for the final boat of the day and headed down the beach to a restaurant for some lunch. 

Right when the boat approached the island I could tell I would like the place. The main strip is filled with bars and restaurants and guest houses with a chill island vibe. To the right you have the beach and to the left you have the local village. We didn’t have a place booked for Koh Rong so we arrived at the dock in need of finding a place to stay. People line the pier as boats come in asking you if you need accommodation. We made our way down the island and ran into a guy who said he had room available for just 5 dollars a room that had a double bed. The hostel was called Three Brothers – owned and operated by, you guessed it, three brothers. We checked out the rooms and agreed that at just $2.50 a person we had to stay there. The rooms were located in the upstairs of the home and a balcony at the front had a seating area that we knew we would be taking advantage of for pre-drinks with the booze that we had bought in Sihanoukville. We went for a quick walk to get acclimated to the place and found a sign for a seven dollar bar hop that included a tank top. How could we say no to that? Collecting tank tops has quickly become one of our favorite activities. We headed back to the room and started drinking on the balcony while playing card games and at 9:00 headed out to the first bar, where we got our shirts and free shots to start the night. That night we went to three different pubs, with the second being a karaoke bar more so within the village and the last back on the strip. Since we’re not used to pre-gaming anymore, we all got completely hammered. Instead of buying drinks at the bars, we would just go back to the hostel and make a new drink in our cup and go back to the bar. The night was already blurry by bar one for all of us but we had an exceptional night. At some point during the night Angela and Ilana started a chant with one of the brothers. Since we were sisters and the brothers had a little sister we started chanting “Three brothers, three sisters!” which quickly became the mantra during our time on the island. We ended our night eating some Pad Thai while Angela made friends with the owner of the operation. By the time we left the island they were on a first name basis. I woke up the next morning missing my shoes, which I did not find, and we all somehow managed to escape a hangover. 

The following day we decided to do the boat day trip, headed by one of the other brothers. In the early afternoon we headed out on the boat and went snorkeling over some coral. While snorkeling, one of the guys hit some coral, causing his toe nail to fall off. My fear of losing toe nails did not mix well with my looming hangover and I was definitely starting to feel sea sick. From snorkeling, we boated to a fishing area and cast some lines to catch dinner. I ended up catching a baby fish as did some other people on the boat. While one of us had a line in, I noticed something that looked oddly in the shape of a toenail on the seat in front of us, where the toenail man had been previously sitting. But to me, at the time, it didn’t make sense that his toenail would be on the boat because I thought it had fallen off in the water. I brought everyone’s attention to it, saying “uhm…is that the toenail.” After some contemplation and staring and disgust, Ilana claimed it couldn’t be the toenail. After some further discussion it was confirmed that, indeed, that was his toenail. We actually lost our shit. Ilana and I could not stop laughing, influenced probably by the hangover, lack of sleep, pure grossness of the situation and sea air. Toenail man had no idea what was going on because his English wasn’t very good. Eventually Ilana asked him if he could throw out his toenail and we laughed some more. The toenail, after trial and tribulation, did get disposed of and we moved on with our day. 

After fishing we headed to a beach that was not nearly as nice as the one back by where we were staying, and waited for the men to cook our dinner. We ate our barbecue and fish on the beach and after sunset we got back on the boat to go see the bioluminescent plankton. We basically had a rager on the way, with music, disco lights and bottles of rum and coke being passed around. The boat stopped in the middle of the ocean and we were told to jump in. The plankton glow when they’re disturbed by movement, so you could see an angelic glow around people who jumped in the water. In the water, the experience is even better. Endless amounts of plankton glow with every move you make and they look like little Christmas lights in the water. It really was such a cool, unique experience. That night we went back out after another rather long pre-game session, ate some Pad Thai yet again.

Our last day on the islands was spent lazily, enjoying the water and beach. After a nice Italian meal we headed over to the pier for our 4:00 ferry back to Sinoukville, where we would get the overnight bus to Battambang. Before coming to Asia I didn’t even know that Cambodia was surrounded by such gorgeous islands. I was so lucky to have spent 5 days on two absolutely gorgeous islands with good company, plenty of laughs, and excessive amounts of alcohol.     

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