After many hours of bus ride, and a jarring vehicle switch in Phnom Penh at 6am (there is no such thing as a direct bus in Cambodia), we arrived in Sihanoukville, the main city on the coast, for some well deserved beach time!
We checked in to Monkey Republic, the top youth hostel in the area, and headed straight for the beach. I kept having to pinch myself… There I was, happily seated on the beach, enjoying the sunshine and a bucket of margaritas. While we were sitting there we had countless ladies try to give us manis/pedis or thread the hair from our legs, and made friends with a group of girls who were selling bracelets. We chatted with them about the music we liked, and broke out into spontaneous sing-alongs to Nikki Minaj’s “Super Bass” and One Direction’s “That’s What Makes You Beautiful.” They also commented on Justin Bieber… “he sing like garbage.”
We spent four days total in this area, with two nights in Sihanoukville and two nights on Koh Rong Samloem, an island about two hours away by boat (at least it took two hours on the Slow/Party boat… I’m pretty sure you can get there in 40 minutes on the fast ferry.)
While in Sihanoukville we decided to go on a ‘Jungle Trek’ in Preah Sihanouk (Ream) National Park.
We’ve come to learn that nothing we sign up for is what we expect it to be… first of all, no one mentioned the boat ride would last for 90 minutes each way, there wasn’t much jungle or trekking to speak of, and the trip had us spend an hour at a beach, a portion of the trip that had not been mentioned on the itinerary.
We were woefully unprepared, so I decided to make the best of the situation… and went swimming in my underwear! Hey, you’re only on an untouched beach in a national park in Cambodia once right? Screw proper swimwear, a sports bra and underwear can suffice.
While it wasn’t what was expected, there were some highlights, including a fantastic lunch (barracuda fish cooked by our boat captain) and some great chats with our guide. We also saw a lot of mangroves, which are beautifully green, some interesting wildlife, and fishermen busy at work. While this was a protected national park, there were some people allowed to live and fish there.
The next morning we hopped on The Party Boat and were lucky to snag some of the few lounging seats on the top deck. We were headed for The Beach Island Resort, which offered dorm accommodation (seen below.)
After talking to some travel agents, we chose to go to Koh Rong Samloem over the busier island, Koh Rong, since all we really wanted to do was lounge on the beach, swim, and read.
Mission was accomplished: I read 3 books while I was there, drank some cocktails, lounged on the beach, went for a walk, and swam (ahem floated in a rubber tube) in the beautiful ocean. It was pretty hard to leave such a beautiful paradise! The resort was located in the centre of an amazing cove, providing shelter from the waves and gorgeous views all around.
There were tons of tiny crabs on the beach, and little piles of sand that they made while digging their way out of the sand. We also ran in to a very dead jellyfish.
Fun fact about Cambodia: most of the residences also have a ‘Spirit House,’ which is a place for the ghosts of their deceased family to live and stay with them at home. The Spirit House on the island was beautiful, and set against an even more beautiful backdrop.