So after the all the recent cities I felt it was definitely time for some R&R. I found this in Kampot and Koh Rong Samloem. From Kampot I went to Sihanoukville, only as a means of getting to Koh Rong Samloem. Jumping on a little boat we jetted off towards our desert island destination. Ok desert island might be overplaying it a little as there are a few places for accommodation but where I was staying was very remote, the only place for a few kms, and had a very shanty town like feel to it.
Disembark, get out of boots and change in to flip-flops, start walking along a beach with the finest sand ever that spills into beautiful clear waters. Before even knowing anything about where I was staying I could already start to feel the chill coming and was starting to relax. Now once again, photos fail to do the setting any justice but I will include a few of the scenery, mostly however I will focus on some of the people working there.
Whilst searching for somewhere to stay on hostelworld, I noticed a place on this island advertised at $4 a night, sounded pretty reasonable to me. They explain how they’re very remote, there isn’t any wifi and if you want reception you’d have to trek into the jungle, which happens to be inhabited by cobras. Well none of this deterred me as this is kind of what I was looking for. Somewhere to switch off, whole-heartedly chill out, no worries about planning the next parts of my trip. The first day was a little hard to get into the relaxed vibe as I tend to move at a high pace anyways, so I spent a lot of it just going on and on about how the setting was so great. I got talking to the staff at the hostel and they were a solid bunch and entertained my manic ramblings. I decided to head back to my dorm to discover the resident rat had nibbled through my bag and had come to the conclusion that munching on my money sounded like a good idea. Now I have some dollars missing a corner thanks to those lovely critters. But alas I spent the night in the dorm anyway, the rat could just try and return if he dared, and woke up every hour or so sweating as it was absolutely boiling. With this in mind on the following morning I asked if it would be ok to sleep in the lounge as they have a bunch of hammocks and they were more than happy to accommodate my wishes. After a night to adjust I properly got into the chill mood. I spent most of my day starting a new book, I thought “The Beach” would be an appropriate title. As a travellers story as well as more specifically to might current situation.
I spent a lot of the time talking to the staff about the place, how long it has been open, how long they’d been there, what their next plans were in their travels. They were a really nice bunch of people from France, Germany, England, and of course, Cambodia. Dinner is the same for everyone (allergies aside) and we all eat together in the lounge area. It was a really nice way to meet some other people, and of course cliques developed, but mostly the atmosphere was just about interacting and meeting others which was really nice. It also happened to be Maja’s (I think that’s how she said her name was spelt!) birthday. Maja was a guest who stayed for a while and then ended up working at the hostel as she enjoyed it so much. At midnight her colleagues all brought her gifts along with loads of cupcakes and started singing happy birthday. Moments later we could hear the chorus being echoed from the beach where a few other guests were having a campfire. It was very sweet and needless to say, the following night much drinking was done.
Things to pass the time ended up mostly consisting of reading, late afternoon swims (in beautifully warm but not hot sea water), playing frisbee and helping out with the odd chore. We had to get a 6000L water tank up behind the lounge as the previous one was bust. That consisted of everyone helping any many humorous shouts of ‘pivot!’. The next task was to erect a tripod in the water to create a spot to hang up some aquatic hammocks! It was really fun having everyone work together and it really created such a lovely sense of community and a ‘we’re all in it together’ attitude. It really reinforces my desire to be part of a commune and I definitely would like to take part in more activities like this.
There’s not much more to say other than it really was a beautiful island, not that I saw much of it, with lots of those bioluminescent plankton, more than Cat Ba, a great canopy at night that makes you forget there’s even a sky as there are so many stars, and a welcoming family of staff that just help you get on with recharging yourself.
I really couldn’t recommend this place enough as it really was a little haven away from everything. That being said there’s always that aspect of not wanting everyone to go there and spoil what makes it so special. From what I understand though there are limitations as to how much development can occur as the island is owned by the state (I think). Over such a short time you develop such strong bonds with everyone, and with the short duration of the relationship it also means the honeymoon phase never ends, creating this perfect moment where you don’t see someone other than all their goodness. Here’s some of the crew!
As I write this in Sihanoukville in my hostel I can’t help but regret that I didn’t stay longer, but I said I would go to Siem Reap to help out at this little school. That being said I almost decided to stay and ask if I could work there if my boat was any later than it was!
Ok, after initially writing this I met some very cool people at my hostel and spent the evening with them playing foosball and recreating a wonderful duet of the “Elephant Love Medley” from Moulin Rouge!
Next stop the temples of Angkor and Angkor Tree School.