Two Rong's make a right

Friday, December 09, 2016
Koh Rong Samloem, Koh Kong Province, Cambodia
We were up early to catch our boat to Koh Rong. Everything lately has felt like an early morning, or a night trying to sleep in an airport or God knows how many hours sat on a bus, so some island life for our last 10 days was a welcome thought indeed.

The seas were a bit choppy that day and despite being obviously hot it wasn't the nicest of days . Hopefully we would get some good weather to enjoy the islands. Within an hour we were on Koh Rong and off in search of somewhere to stay. At least Dani was. I sat with bags while she went off to see what was out there. I waited and waited and waited. Nearly 3 hours later and she finally returned, having walked half way round the island by the sound of it and only finding one place that was cheap enough for all her trouble. So we grabbed the bags and checked in to some random room at a place that I don't even recall having a name. It was very basic but would have to do.

With the bags dropped off we headed out to see what the small local village was like. We had heard that Koh Rong was a bit of a party island and that it's smaller sister island of Koh Rong Samloen was a quiter more chilled affair. This seemed about right so far as despite the village of Koh Touch being very small it was crammed full of guesthouses, bars and places to eat. It reminded us of a mini version of Phi Phi in Thailand which is a place we don't really like anymore or would ever return to so we were in for an interesting few days .

As we explored a little further we found a small alleyway leading up a hill with much better value accomodation. So after a sprint back to our digs, a very quick conversation with the guy there and a refund we were lugging our bags back along the beach to our new place. At last we could now settle in.

Our money by this point was immensely tight. No ATM's on the island so the dollars we had would have to be spent wisely and last us the duration. Being an island the prices for everything were massively inflated as you would expect. So instead of enjoying a few beers down at the back packer bars we enjoyed $2 bottles of rum that we hunted out in the small shops back at our hostel on a night instead.

We spent the next few days on Koh Rong as we had paid up for 3 nights accomodation. Despite the fact the island seems to be developing quickly it is also the start of busy season and after Dani's 3 hour trek on arrival to only find one reasonably priced place we were nervous that if we didn't book our nights we would be left with a choice of more expensive digs that we could not afford and would have no choice but to head back to the mainland . 4 days on Koh Rong was more than enough for us. I guess if you have plenty of cash it could be ok but the place just didn't feel right to us. Almost trying a little too hard to give you that Thai party island feel about it, and also doing a fairly bad over priced job of it at that. It's Cambodia, I want a Cambodian island, if I wanted a Phi Phi experience I would have headed there instead. We went out on walks each day along to other beaches which wasn't too bad, but the beaches weren't anything exceptional and once our 3 paid up nights were over we were more than ready to move on and check out Koh Rong Samloen, the smaller quiter one of the two islands. With our bags packed up, a couple of $2 bottles of rum in our bag and a $10 bag of smoke in my pocket we grabbed the early boat over to Koh Rong Samloen, and what a world of difference that was.

Koh Rong Samloen is stunning. You can instantly feel the difference between the two islands. As soon as you set foot on Samloen it has a different feel about it . It's cleaner. It has no shops, not a single one. If you need basic supplies you get them from one of the guesthouses. It only has electricity after 6pm. It's so much quiter, prettier and relaxed than it's nearby big brother. At last, time to fully relax for our final few days. We were even lucky enough to find that the cheapest place to stay on the main
bay was also one of the only places you could book online and pay for
with credit card. That really helped our finances as we now had a much
better daily allowance for food and water with the few dollars we had left.

The next five days blurred into one. It was wonderful. We headed round to a beach on the opposite side of the island named 'Lazy' beach by following a small half hour inland trail and it has to be one of the best, cleanest, quietest beaches we have ever been to. It's idylic. Sheltered from the winds and currents the water is beautifully calm and clear. It's exceptionally clean as we did not spot one piece of litter in the 5 days we visited and because it is half an hours walk from the main bay and only has one place to stay at it is exceptionally quiet each and every day . We could have stayed their for so much longer if we had the time and money but unfortunately neither of those things were on our side. We slipped in to a different kind of island life very easily. Up every morning at around 5am to watch sunrise. Walking round to lazy beach every day to relax on the pristine sand and in the cooler clean waters. Back at our bungalow on a night to play cards and chill and in bed by 10pm. It was great and something we will treasure from this trip. But alas it had to come to an end at some point.

On our final day there we decided to get the last boat possible back to the Sihanookville and enjoy the island for as long as we possibly could. We spent our last few hours at lazy beach and when we came to leave it really felt like this was the start of our journey back home to England. From leaving lazy beach along the shady jungle trail everything from now on was going to be taking us back to to the cold winter of Sunderland. Lazy beach to Saracen bay, Saracen bay to Sihanookville. Sihanookville to Koh Kong and the Thai/Cambodian border. Koh Kong to Trat, Trat to Bangkok then eventually Bangkok to Heathrow and Heathrow to Newcastle airport before the final short leg back to Sunderland. It was quite a sobering thought and it was hard to let go off this idylic island life. We had days of traveling still left and it was days all geared around taking us home.I wont bore everyone with all the details of the trip home but I will do one final entry after this one to bring this adventure to a final close.

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