Finally, after 5 weeks in South-East Asia, we’ve made it to a beach! And what a beach!
The south of Cambodia boasts multiple beautiful white sandy beaches and numerous islands that are for now less touristy than southern Thailand. After the heat of Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, we decided it was time for some cooling down and laying by the beach, and opted for Koh Rong Island, an hour boat ride away from the costal city of Sihanouksville. We were first worried about the island’s reputation to host hordes of partying backpackers, but found ourselves a small hostel offering tents on the side of a tiny beach far away from the pub-crawl-craving-crowds. And God, what a great decision!
Anyway, this wasn’t enough to pull us down. Rather, we had to make effort to pick up our jaws hanging to the ground: the place was a real postcard. Crystal-clear water, white powdery sand, coconut trees, and no one.
Only little “unlucky” point: right when the boat dropped us at our beach, the sky turned black and within 10 seconds Zeus threw all of his wrath into our faces! We only had a hundred meters to walk along the beach to reach our tent, but were soaked to the bone by the time we got there. Then it mysteriously ceased and the sky turned blue again. Welcome to the tropics! Still kind of enjoyed the rain though.
We had first planned to stay there for two nights but extended our stay for two more. Activities mainly included walking on the beach, snorkeling, sitting on a swing and reading a few hours, eating, exploring the island and its fishermen villages, and sitting by the bonfire in the evenings.
On one special evening, the owner of the hostel gathered us all, turned off the electricity of the entire hotel, and in pitch darkness led us into the sea. Once the water reached our knees, we started noticing some sporadic little dots of light around our legs, disappearing even faster than they had appeared. We dived in and suddenly the water around us lit up in thousands and thousands of silver sparkles! The waters around the island host luminescent plankton that are “activated” by movement, so any movement would leave behind a trail a fairy powder that disappeared after less than a second. It was a truly magical moment and we stayed in the waters, playing with plankton, long after everybody had gone back to their bungalows/tents.
(sorry, we tried to take pictures/videos of it, but in complete darkness nothing came out)
Although we did not get drenched by rain anymore, we did have some rainstorms during the nights (luckily our tent had an extra tarpaulin to protect it from the elements). On our third night, a rather big storm hit, and the next day the beach was covered in plastic, fishing nets and other human wastes. It however turned into a heartwarming moment, as most guests of the hotel joined forces to clean up the beach, and within two hours it looked neat again!
Next and final stop in Cambodia: Phnom Penh, the capital city!