Week 22-Koh Rong and Kampot

This week was my last week in Cambodia and it was much more relaxed than most of my experiences in Cambodia thus far. I will pick up after we took the night bus to Sihanoukville. Sihanoukville is a beach town in Cambodia known for its parties, but everyone said to skip the town as it was a bit gross and instead head straight for Koh Rong island. So, we caught the 8am ferry to Kong Rong and stayed the first night by the main pier. This main area we found to be very crazy and a bit expensive. The place that we stayed was nice enough, but at night the town is so loud and it was hard to get some sleep. There are lots of hotels and restaurants, but it looked like one big wave could knock out the whole town.

Main Pier of Koh Rong island

After arriving, we tried to find other accommodation and found a quiet place on the other side of the island and we booked that for the rest of the time. Our first day we wandered and got some lunch at a nearby restaurant and then continued to 4K beach. We had heard the 4K beach was one of the most beautiful beaches on the island and we wanted to check it out. We walked down the beach and through the woods a bit to get to the first resort which I think were called the Tree Bungalows. These are beautiful if you have the money to stay there. They are up in the trees overlooking the water and it was right on a peaceful beach away from the craziness of the town.

Forest we walked through to get to 4K beach

Then, we continued on to 4K beach which was very stunning. Long white sand beach with a fresh water lake right behind it. There were several bungalow type bars along the beach. We went in the water and the amazing thing about the water both in Cambodia and Thailand is that it is literally the perfect temperature. Cool enough to feel like a reprieve from the hot sun, but warm enough that you can jump right in.

4K beach

We got out and read for awhile and then we saw dark clouds moving in. Nate said we should probably head out which was a great idea because as soon as we made it to the first bar on that beach it started to pour down rain. We hung out there for probably 1.5 hours more to avoid the crazy rain, thunder, and lightning. Then, we walked back to the town via the water and got back in closer to town. After a shower, we headed out to find some dinner and found this vegetarian cafe where we had hummus and falafel!! We also go their special shake which was delicious. Then, we called it an early night and headed home because we were a bit tired from the long bus ride the night before.

Stuck in the rain at 4K beach

That night, Nate got really sick and had a really high fever. He thinks he had Dengue, but I think it was more of just a food related bug. That night we had a reservation at Coconutbeach Bungalows on the other side of the island in a tent which had a mattress, sheets, and everything and was right on the water. The only problem was figuring out how we were going to get there. We inquired with our hostel and the pier to see how to catch a boat to the other side and found out it was going to be pretty expensive and that was a moot point anyway because the taxi boats would not run there that day because the seas were too rough. So, Nate is still sick and we are trying to figure out how to get there. Therefore, we made a decision that we were going to walk the almost 5 miles across the islands with all of our luggage to get to our new accommodation. Still don’t know why we did this, but that is the decision we made and we start walking.

Taking a picture of our special milkshake

I don’t think that they locals were used to tourists walking across the island because people kept stopping us and asking where we were going and telling us it was very far. We stopped a couple of times for a break and at one restaurant for some water, but other than that we walked all 5 miles. I kept trying to be super positive to keep Nate positive because his fever was only getting worse as we walked and I even slipped and fell at one point and my knee was just dripping blood. This is the state that we arrived at the hostel. At first they were so confused about who we were because I don’t think many people come by land. Then, they were racing around trying to clean and bandage my knee and even give Nate some local medicine. I think the reason we liked this place so much and stayed for 3 days was that they people working there were so kind and it was quiet right on a nearly private beach.

View from the restaurant at Coconutbeach Bungalows

The rest of the afternoon, Nate slept in the tent and I had an opportunity to blog a bit and read my book. I was chilling in a hammock most of the afternoon and then we went up and had some dinner. They had a restaurant that was a bit pricey but it had a gorgeous view of the whole bay and the beach.

Seeing the sunrise just a couple of steps outside our tent

The following day Nate was feeling a bit better and we booked an all day boat trip for $10. The boat was a hilarious long boat that you could tell was more of a fisherman boat and was run using old car engines. There was only us and one other couple on the boat. First, we went to an island off the coast and were given a snorkel (kind of hanky snorkel) and started to swim around. Nate was kind of a snorkel newbie and it was funny to make fun of him. It wasn’t that great of snorkeling and the waves were decently large so we only stayed for 30 minutes. Next stop was back into the town we were the previous day. We had some lunch and took advantage of wifi since the bungalows didn’t have any wifi.

Our third stop was out so sea a bit and we were given fishing line with hooks on the end. The fishing line was just wrapped around these plastic spool and there was no bobber or rob, but we did have squid as bait. So we just though in the line and waited for the fish to come. The captain of or boat was a champ and was catching fish left and right. The rest of us were a bit less successful. I did catch one fish and was really excited and the other guy on the boat caught a huge fish.

Finally, we went to long beach which I think was the most beautiful beach on the island. It was long of course and white sand, but it was empty except for other people on boat trips like ours. We all went swimming a bit while the guys on our boat cooked the fish that we caught and some chicken on the grill on the boat. Then, we ate dinner. Nate said the fish was not that good because there was no seasoning or anything and lots of bones, but its pretty neat they cooked up the fish right there. The chicken was pretty good and we got some rice and vegetables as well.

Finally, we swam to shore and watched the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. We were facing the west and watched it set behind the boats and they sky was perfect to see all of the reds and oranges. It was a truly unbelievable experience. So, we loaded the boat and started our way back home around the island. At first the boat was very calm and everything was great until we turned the corner around the island to the windy side where our accommodation was. The seas got so rough that we were all a bit scared that we were going down. This boat was not meant to handle rough seas and one big wave and we would be done. Fortunately we made it back, but we were unable to make it to our pier because it was too rough so we landed in the fisherman’s village a bit of a walk away. We walked across the sketchiest dock that had holes all through it. Then, started hiking up this mountain in the dark following our guide. He leaves us about half way there and tells us to just keep going until we get back.

I feel like I could sell this picture! #nofilter

That night, we were also lucky to be able to see the bioluminescent plankton in the water. Robbie who was the main guy that worked there took us all down the water and they turned out all the lights and you could see as you moved your hands a feet that the plankton lit up. You could see it clearly if you brought a black shirt in the water and lifted it up or we also had a snorkel and we could see it under water.

I thought this was a cute sunset picture as well

The following day, Nate’s fever returned. This virus would just not go away. We went down the beach to eat breakfast at a different hotel. It was right on the beach and it was much cheaper. Then, we chilled all day at the bungalows and I had a great day just reading my book and blogging. That night, they gave us a bungalow because I think they felt bad for making us walk across the island and because Nate was still sick, which was so sweet of them.

Breakfast on the beach

We decided that we would like to spend one day on the other island Koh Rong Sanloem. This was supposed to be similar to Kong Rong, but more relaxed. We took another long boat over there and again were a bit scared for our lives. The boat was letting all the waves hit us from the side and we were really rocking hard. We didn’t understand why we just didn’t just go diagonal. We get to the other island and walk down the beach looking for our place. Our place was just ok and the restaurant was the slowest ever to serve food. Koh Rong Sanloem was a bit of a weird place because it had the infrastructure to be awesome, but it was so quiet and empty. We did find some swings and have some fun on them and also found a bar whose drink names were all different types of pussies. That night there was a man cooking pizza in a stone oven right next to our hostel and it was actually very good pizza.

Swings on the beach

I had a tropical pussy

The following day we got up early and I watched the sunrise (Nate was still a bit sick) and we got onto a speed boat to go back to the shore. We arrived in Sihanoukville, grabbed a quick breakfast, and then we hopped a bus to go to Kampot. In Kampot, we had heard about this hostel that was a bit our of town called Arcadia and had heard that it had its own river waterpark. So naturally we had to stay there. We arrived the first day and took it easy because Nate was still sick. We watched people use the water equipment and I was actually a bit scared to use it myself. They had a waterslide that shot you up in the air, a blob where people jump on one side and it shoots you up on the other, a russian swing, a rope swing, and a floating dock with tubes. It was a really neat please to hang out!

Sunrise the morning leaving Koh Rong Sanloem

The following day we woke up and recruited a british girl and an Argentine girl to get motorbikes with us and drive up into a National Park where we heard there was an abandoned casino and some other buildings. The ride was much more beautiful that I expected and we wound up switchbacks up the mountain with nearly empty roads. The first thing we encountered was one of the most tacky giant Bhuddas I have seen thus far. It was painted with bright colors and just looked a bit weird. We get to the top and there was a whole complex up there. They had a tacky hotel that they rebuilt as a new casino which was huge and empty. We drove up to an old church first. You could see the bullet wholes on the walls from the Kmer Rouge regime and the whole thing was covered in this red algae.

Meditating with tacky Bhudda
The old church

The third stop was the abandoned burned casino. The infrastructure was still really sound and it was all cement. You could definitely see that this place used to be a grand casino/hotel and it had the most spectacular views. It did leave a bit of a creepy vibe. We could walk all the way through it and see all of the old rooms. It was a place that would be a must see if you come to Kampot.

The old casino

We continued on our scooters to the end of that road where we found another creepy abandoned bulding. Looking at the map we wanted to make a big loop of the property and then end up at a waterfall. The waterfall was a weird place because there was this giant westernized eating hall there that was almost completely empty. It reminded me of the lobby of a big movie theater. We ate some spring rolls and popcorn and then headed to the waterfall. It was very beautiful but the water was clearly polluted.

The waterfall

Our last stop was a lake that looked like they wanted to again build it up as a big touristy place but if just had some rusty swan paddleboats sitting on the dock. To me, it seemed like a place that they are trying to make touristy, but the tourist have never come in the numbers that they would like. Yet, they continue to build more hotels. On the way back, we stopped in town and had a drink at a floating restaurant right on the river which was beautiful. Finally, we had dinner at a place called the rusty keyhole and the food (especially the pork ribs) were so good!!

Lake with the docked swans
One of the views from our drive

The following day, Nate and I woke up early so we could play on the water equipment before he had to leave on a flight. We recruited another guy to do the blob with us and I was up first. They jumped and shot me straight in the air. It was so fun! Yet, this is where they fun ended for me. I then was one of the jumpers and we tried to send Nate in the air. Well the guy jumping with me jumped on my side and we slipped off the side, he rolled over me, and I jammed my finger really hard to the point that over a month later it still hurts. The second jump with him was more successful but then jumping with Nate the same thing happened and I hurt my wrist and declared I was done. The hilarious part of that jump was the guy was thrown in the air, but then came right back down on the blob.

View of the river from our room

Finally, we tried the waterslide. This waterslide was not a normal waterslide. This was was steep straight down and then came back up to shoot  you high in the air. I was a bit scared at first, but it was so fun! Then, I drove Nate downtown to catch his but and I continued on with my motorbike on a ride to Kep. Kep is a beach town near Kampot and it was a fun drive to get down there. i rode along the shore, stopped at the beach to read, and had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the water.

At Kep beach

I had seen a lake called secret lake that looked pretty close and I decided to check that out as well. What I didn’t know at the time is that I would be doing about an hour of offload biking to get there. It was actually pretty fun and gave me a lot more confidence at my scooter skills. The lake was very beautiful and was a gorgeous blue, but I couldn’t find a way to get too close and there was nowhere to chill nearby so I left. I had a chill night at the hostel and then the next day I headed for my own bus to Phnom Penh to catch my flight to Phuket.

The secret lake

This was a hilarious situation that occurred from here. First, my tuk tuk was stolen by someone else in the morning so I was freaking out that I would not make it on time. Then, I get on the bus and meet a really nice German guy that I find out is on the same flight. So, the bus rounds the corner and then stops. They tell us to get out and hop into 2 cars instead because the AC is not working on the bus. I think this thing is a whole weird scam since they did the same thing to Nate the day before so they obviously know the bus isn’t working. The trunk is full of stuff so they tie our luggage to the trunk and 3 of us get in. Then, they tell the guy in from the has to get in back with us because they are picking someone else up. So, 3 of us are shoved in the back of a small car with our backpacks on our laps and it is so hot that I don’t think the AC works in there either. Meanwhile, there is no one up front for an hour! Finally we pick up an older lady and drop her off maybe 45 minutes later at which point we ask if one person can move up. The guy ignores us and continues to drive the rest of the way with the 3 off us crammed in the back. Oh 3rd world countries. We arrive at the airport, chill awhile before our flight, and then fly to Bangkok and then on to Phuket. Finally I am back in Thailand!!

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