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How did it all go? - Koh Rong

A week on a tropical island

sunny 32 °C

Well, where do I start?

After landing in Sihanoukville a week ago we tried to get out to Koh Rong Island that day. There was no availability in any accommodation so we ended up staying the night on the mainland. It turned out just fine, we booked into a place with a pool and the kids were happy out for the day. There's no shortage of restaurants in the town so it wasn't the worst day spent on out travels by any means. The next morning we headed for Koh Rong.

Koh Rong is about two hours away by passenger ferry. The weather had been a little unpredictable last week, there was the tail end of a monsoon that was felt much harder up by the Phillipines. Nevertheless, our boat set sail pretty much on time by Cambodian standards. To say the journey was rough is a bit of an understatement. Lots of people getting sick over the side of the boat. If you've ever seen 'Deadliest Catch' on the Discovery Channel you'll get a sense of what it was like on the boat. We were covered in sea brine after about two minutes on board and suffered two and a half hours of the same until we hit the island. The kids were great, it didn't knock a jot out of any of them. They have great sea legs as it turns out!

On arrival in Koh Rong I wasn't sure what to make of it. The first sight that greets you when you step off the boat is a shanty town. Rubbish strewn around the place and others burning their rubbish outside their 'house'. We had booked into a place called Monkey Island. Its really a place for the backpacker set but we stayed there for two nights. The staff were extremely friendly, particularly a guy called T who was really kind to the kids and wowed them with his nightly fire show. The lodgings were a little basic - wood and straw huts on the beachfront. The bar pumped out tunes from morning til evening and the place was filled with a crowd I now term the 'Vang Vieng set' - young backpackers who race around SE Asia ticking the boxes on their itinerary. After the second night we decided that we'd go a little more upmarket so we booked into a place called 'Paradise' a little further down the main beach. In retrospect it was an inspired decision. The accommodation, whilst still wood and straw, was infinitely better. The restaurant and bar were also a lot plusher - thats what you pay the extra cash for I guess. The owner, Rudi, a larger than life German ex-pat was great for advice about the island and the local Khmer staff were excellent. The only negative was the churlish young German manager for whom everything seemed to be a bit of a trial. He had the martyr syndrome and liked to extol his woes on a regular basis.

A short walk through the jungle brings you to an isolated beach - exactly the kind you have in mind when you think of a tropical island. It was a couple of kilometers long so it was only on the second day there that we realised there was an Italian run guesthouse called 'Pura Vida' there that served Italian espresso coffee. Its amazing what you can find on these desert islands these days. The only problem with the lovely beach was the abundance of sand-flies that fed on the kids and Caroline. They didn't seem to like the taste of me and Harry that much thankfully.

We celebrated Harrys birthday on the island, the nice staff in Paradise baked him a cake and all sang happy birthday. Bells, whistles etc. The next day Caroline, Harry and Joe went scuba-diving. It was our birthday present to the pair of them as there's not a lot of Smyths Toystores in these parts. They had a smashing time by all accounts - I'll try and get Harry to write about it here on the blog now that we're back in internet land. Another day we took a trek through the jungle to the other side of the island where we found the abandoned 'Broken Heart Guest House'. It was on a beach about 12km long that was heavily infested with sandflies. I can see why it closed down. What I couldn't understand was how the previous owner just left everything there, including lots of rubbish.

We're back in Sihanoukville as I write and guess what, it's my birthday today. We'll have a bite to eat tonight to celebrate it in a low-key style. No marquee out the back garden this year for me. Tomorrow we'll head towards Koh Kong and the Cambodian border with Thailand and in twelve days we're home. I hope we can squeeze in a few more adventures before then!

Posted by goldenmaverick 02:25 Archived in Cambodia Tagged island scuba koh_rong Comments (9)

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