Friday, 13 May 2016

Travelling Southeast Asia: Sihanoukville & Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia

After a week or so in rural Cambodia, it was time to head down to the coast. Our journey from Sen Monorom to Sihanoukville didn't exactly go to plan. Karma hit Tom and Sam, and they ended up with some kind of food poisoning from being greedy and going for a second dessert. The worst of Sam's had passed by the morning of our journey, but Tom woke up feeling awful and full of lemon meringue pie fuelled regret. 

We were looking at a full day of sitting on a mini bus, with a brief connection in Phnom Penh. The roads to the capital city were extremely bumpy, and we constantly bouncing out of our chairs. This was too much for Tom's already unsettled stomach, and we had to really protest to the drivers to make them stop so he could get out - it seemed they would have just let him continue to be sick inside the bus otherwise.

We were hoping for a smoother journey once we changed buses at Phnom Penh, but after an hour of sitting in the bus station (the front of a shop) we found out that our bus was stuck somewhere with a flat tyre. A bus finally picked us up a few hours later and after another three hours of (a lot less bumpy) travelling and an overpriced tuk tuk, we arrived at The Grand Sihanoukville Hotel.

One of the things we'd aimed for when choosing accommodation in Sihanoukville was a pool, so we spent the next day recovering from the journey by the pool.

The following day was our final day in Sihanoukville before heading to an island, and we headed down the the beach. The main beach area was very overcrowded and quite unclean, but we had read in the guidebook that Sokha Beach Resort had a private beach that the public could use if they used their bar. You weren't allowed to lie on the sand, as it ruined the illusion of an empty beach, but we were allowed to use one of their shelters with a table, provided that we ordered food and drinks, so we spent the day on this beach, which was a lot nicer than the main beach.


From Sihanoukville we were heading to Koh Rong Samloem, a tiny Cambodian island off the coast of Sihanoukville. The ferry, which was advertised as direct to the island, in fact went to Koh Rong first before turning around and going back to Koh Rong Samloem, resulting in a two hour (and very rough) journey.

The island is very remote, with little electricity access, so we had booked to stay at Lazy Beach from their office in Sihanoukville. Upon arriving on Koh Rong Samloem, there was someone at the pier to meet us, and we were taken through the jungle across to the other side of the island in something that I can only describe as a wooden trailer attached to part of a tractor engine.

We were dropped off at the reception/ restaurant/ communal area of Lazy Beach and were greeted by the lovely owners of the place as we filled in some paperwork. As it was the only place we could eat all three meals whilst we were there, we were very happy to find out that the food was amazing.

We spent the rest of the day at the stretch of beach immediately outside our hut. The four of us were in one hut, with a small (outdoor-ish) shower room. We were a little nervous about sleeping in another wooden hut after our previous experience, especially since you could see straight through the floor of the hut to the jungley ground below. But the only creatures we had to share our hut with (that we were knew about) was a family of huge geckos.

Our full day on the island was split between snorkelling, sunbathing and jumping off the small pier into the sea. You could hire snorkel masks and flippers for just $2 each.

As the sun was setting we headed up to the top of the hill to the side of Lazy Beach. It was a bit more of a trek than we had imagined but it only took about 10 minutes, and the view from the top was incredible.

After dinner, and a bit of monopoly, we went back towards the sea; the real magic of this island happened at night. Wading out into the sea in complete darkness was slightly terrifying, but if you put your face into the water and moved your limbs around, the sea began to sparkle as hundreds of bioluminescent plankton lit up around you.

The following morning we were up early to head over to the other side of the island to get a ferry back to Sihanoukville. The ferry back was over 2 hours late, with no information about what was going on - the only consolation was that it was a much smoother crossing than on the way to the island.

Luckily our overnight bus to Battambang didn't leave Sihanoukville until 6pm, so we still had plenty of time, despite the delays.

I also vlogged our stay, which gives an even better impression of Sihanoukville and Koh Rong Samloem, so give that a watch and subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss the vlogs from the rest of the trip!


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