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Island paradise in the monsoon season.... Wet in Koh Rong

storm 32 °C

We have spent the last four nights on the Cambodian Island Koh Rong. After our first day of sunbathing and relaxing by the sea we awoke the next day to find that it was absolutely pouring and it did for most of our time on the island. It is well and truely monsoon season and the rain in the tropics is not like the cold wet drizzle we are used to in England. It seems to come in sheets of hot, heavy downpours coupled with strong wind. Surprisingly the rain has not effected the relaxing island retreat we were determined to have.

Most of our days have been sat either laid on our balcony hammock reading and drinking or sat downstairs in our guesthouse cafe watching the sea and rain, reading and drinking. It has been very laid back and quite nice to sit on a dry comfy chair watching the storms at sea. There was a puppy called fudge to keep us company and the occasional kitten.

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A few times in the afternoon it has brightened up and we have gone for a swim. The sea is beautiful on Koh Rong, the cleanest and bluest we have ever been in. It is calm and must have a high salt content as we enjoyed floating around and swimming.

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The only downside to the beach is the sand flies. Since Langkawi when Chelsea got covered in sandfly bites we have been cautious but they are surprisingly resilient on Koh Rong. No matter if we put repellent on or not we seemed to be getting bit, until we couldn't stand it any longer. We have both left the island with at least twenty or thirty bites each.

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On our last day after the rain had eased up late afternoon we decided to go on an explore. We walked the full length of the cove and clambered over the rocky outcrop at the end which revealed another cove of yellow sand. We walked along, past some bungalows built into trees and walked all the way down to the other end of the beach. At the end was another rocky outcrop, a boat and a cluster of men sat around huge piles of litter. We decided to walk back at this point.

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We really like Koh Rong. At the pier that ferrys tourists to and from the island is the main cluster of places to eat and stay but this is the least pretty area. We went in low season so a lot of building work was being done but it was still very dirty, a lot of piles of rubbish, uncleared building materials and general litter everywhere. Further down the beach it gets less developed, sparser and cleaner. About half way down is a resort called Monkey Island. This we think is the best place to eat and drink on the beach. Inexpensive food and a friendly atmosphere meant that every night at sunset, sometimes before we ventured down here, ate good food and drank way too many cans of Klang! They also have a friendly pack of dogs who love attention and Liam fell for one in particular called Poppy.

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After five fun days in Koh Rong we were sad to leave and slightly hungover packed our bags ready for the 10am ferry back to the mainland. We paid our running tab, said bye to our new fluffy friends (were not talking about the rats running around our rooms) and caught the ferry. The boat ride takes two and a half hours and the upper deck is bare, everyone just lays out over each other and falls asleep.

When we arrived back in Sihanoukville we decided to book our bus straight to Seim Reip for that night. We booked a sleeper bus which set off at 7pm and spent the rest of the day in a cafe, eating and drinking and reading. We were picked up at 7pm by a minibus which then took us to a main road and dropped us off with a load of locals on the side of the street. Two big buses came, one was crap and one looked amazing. Guess which one we were on......... For the first time ever we were on the good one! It was to our surprise a hotel bus. Inside there were small booths big enough for two people, curtained off. Inside the booths were lights, plug sockets, a tv and air con. It was a smooth journey which brought us to Seim Reip at 7am. We are very excited about being in Seim Reip and visiting the temples of Angkor and can't wait to get sightseeing.

Posted by Chelsandliam 01:26 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia koh_rong Comments (1)

Sihanoukville & Koh Rong

sunny 36 °C

After three days in Phnom Penh we were eager to back to the more relaxed atmosphere of the beach. So our third bus in seven days picked us up outside our guesthouse, early, so early in fact we were still in bed when our reception phoned us to let us know they were here, they were not due until 7.45 and arrived at 7.15. We should have probably not still been in bed thirty minutes before our bus was due but as you may be able to tell, we do not like early starters.

In keeping with the trend the bus journey was long and completely weird. We went through the DVDs of Cambodian stand up and Cambodian pop artists and then as if this was not bad enough, a DVD of modernish songs but instead of the proper music video the TV showed videos of water buffalos fighting. It was the most random thing we have ever seen. Fortunately though Gangnam style was only on three times.
After six hours we thankfully pulled in to Sihanoukville. We then had to tackle the onslaught of tuk tuk dirvers that ran towards the bus as it pulled into the depot. We collected our bags and waited for the drivers to surround us then start out bidding each other until we were happy a price someone called out. We ended up getting a motorbike taxi each to the beach for $3.

We had booked ahead so we were soon in our room at our guesthouse. It was nothing special but cheap and a stone’s throw from the beach. It was 2pm by this point and we had not eaten nor drank anything all day so dumped our bags and went to the beach to find somewhere to eat. Our guesthouse was in between two beaches, Serendipity and Ocheteaul. We chose Ocheteaul, the beach is long but really busy, most restaurants spill out onto the narrow beach and there is so many people both tourist and local. It is not the prettiest beach we have ever seen but was heavenly compared to Phnom Penh. We sat and ate a meal, shared a jug of beer and watched the sea go in and out. As with Phnom Penh there were a lot of beggars, both children and adults aswell as vendors selling handmade bracelets, food and offering massages that we were constantly dismissing from our table. That was until one lad turned up, he was about two and a half feet tall, must have been no more that six years old. He was selling bracelets and he was like a mini Cambodian Del Boy. His sale pitch was you play ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ with him, if you win you get the bracelet for free, if you lose you pay. Liam loved the kids attitude, and his English was great so managed to banter a bit, got the bracelet for half he was charging and then played ‘Rock Paper Scissors’, he could not help it. Needless to say Liam lost and had to pay for the bracelet but the kid was fun and Liam did not mind giving him the dollar.

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We went back to the room for an hour to let our jug of beer settle, but we were still hungry and were out again as the sun was setting for dinner. We chose the opposite direction this time and Serendipity beach, not so much a beach more of a rocky outcrop but it is peppered with nice bars and restaurants. We had a drink first in an outdoor bar over the sea and watched it get dark. Then we moved on to another restaurant for something to eat. Sihanoukville is not exactly up market but it is a lot of fun and nice places can be found. We had decided to spend the one night there as we wanted to go the Island of Koh Rong 3 hours of the coast.

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We booked the ferry ticked with Koh Rong Diving, $10 each for a return and we were picked up from the dive centre at 7am……that’s two early starts in a row. The ferry was ok, there were comfy seats on the top deck where we could lay down and enjoy the scenery, although Chelsea slept for most of it. As we approached the island it looked like paradise, white sand turquoise waters and swinging palm trees. Disembarking the ferry on to a very small pier that led straight onto the sand, we went in the search for accommodation. Chelsea was not up for a cheap bungalow like Koh Phayam and the nicer, enclosed bungalows are out of our budget so we have found a room, on the beach which is cheap and cheerful. Again we had left it until we arrive to fill our stomachs so we checked in and went in the search for food. The beach at one end is quite congested with guesthouses, and there is a bit of building work going on which ruins the image somewhat, but the other end is more tranquil, with only one or two guesthouse/restaurants. We ate lunch, and then went to change into our beach clothes for an afternoon doing nothing. It did not disappoint, we lazed in the sun, swam in the sea and drank beer in a bar on the beach. The sea is the nicest we have seen so far. It is flat as a pancake and turquoise blue clear water. We spent most of our day in the water.

We are not sure how long to spend here, we enquired about doing a dive with a local dive company as we are now in a different sea to Vietnam but that is too expensive so will give it a miss. We will just be sunning ourselves and relaxing. Its not a bad way to spend a few days, getting ready for the mayhem that will be Angkor Wat.

Posted by Chelsandliam 04:29 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia sihanoukville koh_rong Comments (1)

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