Cambodia – Koh Rong Samloem
Imagine any kind of tropical paradise, and you’d probably be picturing something a little bit like Koh Rong Samloem. Little brother to party island Koh Rong, Koh Rong Samloem has blue sea, palm trees and white sand more beautiful than any I have ever seen. As soon as we stepped off the ferry we were excitedly clutching at each other and trying not to fall off the pier as we stared out across the mile long beach – it was like we had just stepped into a postcard, and our fifteen minute trek along the beach with our heavy bags did nothing to detract from the fact that we were in paradise. Actual paradise.
Our little cabin was nothing more than a wobbly stilted construction with a mattress and a mosquito net, but it was right on the beach and the view that we woke up to every morning was unbeatable. There’s no wifi on the island, and the electricity is sporadic, which meant that I couldn’t obsessively Instagram all of the amazing views (which drove me absolutely frantic), but it was nice to slow down for a bit, and we did a lot of swimming and reading and strolling along the beach, when we weren’t being treated to wine and cake by our amazingly friendly and generous hosts (we stayed at Sweet Dreams guest house and I can’t recommend it enough!)
We even tried to sunbathe for a bit (the sun is so fierce even I couldn’t lie out there for long!) and every now and then I would peek over the top of my book at the little boats going back and forth across the turquoise sea, under the most amazing blue sky with all the sand glowing golden in the sun and wonder how we so casually found our way into this paradise. We were especially lucky because it’s the low season at the moment (because the weather is normally bad this time of year) so the beaches were almost deserted.
On our last day, our hosts recommended we take a walk to the lighthouse and gestured vaguely in the direction of the cliffs on one side of the island, saying that we would easily find the path and it would make a pleasant walk. Wearing our sturdiest flip flops and with nothing but a big bottle of water between us (I know, I can practically hear you tutting under your breath) we set off confidently, and after taking a bit of a shortcut through some mangroves (which definitely don’t figure in my images of tropical paradise), wading through the sea for quite a long time and sneaking around the back of a building site, we found the narrow little path and set off into the jungle. It was tough going through all the roots and rocks and branches, but after hacking our way through the undergrowth for a while, and jumping at every rustle or snap that might conceivably be a snake (which had me jumping into the bushes in fear approximately once every five seconds), I started to enjoy it. It was lush and green and beautiful and mostly in the shade, and although I sort of wished we had thought to bring food, I was mostly excited to explore the jungle. About halfway up, we found a little wooden cabin and a clearing that opened up into a crossroads. Two roads diverged in a jungle and I – I took the one more traveled by, because I wanted to get to the lighthouse and avoid land mines.
We finally reached the lighthouse in just under an hour (the walk is generally said to take about an hour and a half so our enthusiasm for jungle trekking and my desire to power-walk away from the sounds of possible snakes definitely paid off), and we sat at the top absolutely drenched in sweat, enjoying the view across the sea and the huge palm trees (palm trees are totally my thing).
The way back was just as sweaty and just as fun but I ended up twisting my ankle (not badly but enough to ache for a few days), Kati had somehow managed to get sunburn through her factor 30 and we were both covered in insect bites and absolutely starving. We ordered lunch at our hostel and then ran into the sea to cool off and ease our wounds. Our cheerful host would have happily served us our soup right there and was actually on his way over the sand with bowls and soup spoons when we spotted him and ran to reassure him that the crazy white girls would be eating their soup at the dinner table, thanks all the same.
I feel like we spent a short lifetime on Koh Rong Samloem, I climbed a mountain, finished three books, ate my weight in chocolate cake, drank… a fair amount of white wine and chased after about seven different cats on the beach so I could aggressively cuddle them.
It was great, and I wish I could tell you more about it but I have to go and Instagram all these pictures…
We’re headed to Kampot next, four short days until my sister arrives and I can ugly cry at the airport with my arms wrapped around her neck 😉