Nearly all of our trip thus far has been spent in cities or towns and naturally we were itching to get to the coast for a few days. We had heard about Koh Rong and how it resembles the Thai islands 10 years ago, before tourists and backpackers flooded them, and decided that we had to experience this supposed island paradise.
We therefore got a minibus from Phnom Penh down to Sihanoukville, the seaside town that is used as a base to get to the islands. This journey was relatively quick, taking only 4 hours (although it felt a lot longer due to the two toddlers crying the entire way). Once in Sihanoukville we then made our way to our first destination on a neighbouring beach; Otres. Due to the higher prices on the islands, we thought that we would spend three nights on the mainland beach and then splurge for two nights on Koh Rong. We were staying at a place called Indigo Beach Resort, a cute beach-fringed set of bamboo beach huts with a small bar-restaurant attached. Here we spent two full days, relaxing in the sun and taking walks along the beach. Unfortunately our nights were not as peaceful, with a club next door which blasted drum and base music until 8am (I am sorry but who parties until 8am?!), a neighbour who decided to add house music to the mix at 6am and a rather large rodent that scuttled the length of the hut on our last night. It’s safe to say it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting.
We then caught a speedboat to the main village of Koh Rong, Koh Toch. Here we got a bit of a shock as well. If I am honest I was expecting a lovely local village, to go with this depicted untouched paradise island. What we were treated to instead was what I can only describe as my idea of hell. Half naked westerners walking around blind drunk at 12:30 in the afternoon; ignoring the signs telling them to respect the local culture (although there seemed to be no culture left to be honest), hippies lighting up spliffs left right and centre in restaurants, pumping music and a lot of 30 something ‘guides’ who had obviously arrived and never left; thinking this depressingly tacky place was heaven on earth. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and thanked my lucky stars that our hotel was on another beach.
After a couple of hours a water taxi came to save us from the hedonistic hell and we climbed down from the pier into a boat which looked as if it belonged at the bottom of the sea, not floating on it. The short ten minute journey around to the next bay seemed more like half an hour, the waves sending our little vessel so far sideways at times I was sure that my repatriation insurance may have to be used. Credit to the crew, they knew their boat well and we were deposited onto ‘Long Reach Beach’ safely, if not a little seasick.
Long Reach Beach thankfully was exactly what we wanted it to be. A long stretch of white powdery sand with just 4 resorts hugging the beach. Ours was at a place called ‘Reef on the Beach’, where we had a wooden garden view hut set off the ground with a decking area at the front and an en suite bathroom. While this was more open to the elements than the last place, our visitors were geckos and lizards, making for a more natural and enjoyable experience. We only had one full day here and spent it laying in the sun, reading books and trying my hardest to snorkel, we had booked a night plankton tour as the plankton here glows bright blue and looked forward to nightfall.
Alas in true Caroline & Matt style, we left our cabin ready for our night boat tour to claps of lightning across the sky. The plankton tour was quickly forgotten and we headed for an early dinner in the neighbouring restaurant. Within 15 minutes we were in the eye of the biggest storm I have ever seen. Lightning was lighting up the entire beach, the thunder was so load even the Cambodians were frightened (you know it’s bad when that happens) and the rain hammered down so hard we could barely hear each other. We spent the next half an hour desperately trying to eat, with leaks in the roof spraying onto our table, chair cushions flying at our heads and my salad garnish rolling off my plate and onto the floor. It was hilarious, exhilarating and frightening all at the same time! Thankfully it had passed by the time we had finished and we managed to walk back to our room dry.
It was such a shame to leave Long Reach beach so quickly after we had arrived. I could have happily spent a few more days there lapping up the vitamin D, however our trip to Cambodia has had to be a bit of a whistle stop tour and we caught a bus up to Siem Reap the next day.