So I have arrived in Cambodia, my home now until the end of January. It seems so much more westernised than I remember – from the Burger King and Costa Coffee in the airport to the use of US Dollars as a preferred currency.
I stayed at the Teahouse Asia for one night, a very stylish but simple hotel near the Royal Palace, a bargain at £20, before taking the bus to the coast the following morning. It had been storming in the night and all the way to Sihanoukville so I was a bit worried that the boat to Koh Rong Samloem wouldn’t be on, but by morning the sky was clear and the sea was calm.
Koh Rong Samloem is the smaller of two islands just south of the Koh Sdach Archipelago. The bigger island is called Koh Rong and is a bit more developed but Koh Rong Samloem really is castaway-style. It’s covered mostly by jungle although there is a village on the northern tip.
Huba Huba Bungalows, where I was staying, is on the southwest coast at one end of the beach and there is another resort at the other end. Luckily the sea was calm because in rough weather you get dropped off on the other side of the island and have to trek 40 minutes through the jungle – the exact reason why I left most of my luggage in Phnom Penh!
As we rounded the rocky coastline, the stunning pier and beach came in to view with perfect turquoise sea.
There are only four bungalows and they are what you might say rustic, very rustic! It’s a hut with a bed and a mosquito net. The open-air bathroom was a quick but scary walk away in the pitch-black night. It stormed most nights I was there but during the day is was clear, and pretty idyllic. I would say paradise but my paradise doesn’t have that many insects!
As you can imagine the place was teeming with wildlife, including sea eagles, black squirrels, loads of crabs and these great little flying fish. I was also told to watch out for scorpions and snakes, when I inquired about spiders I was told they are ‘very big but not scary’ -!! Luckily I didn’t see any. There weren’t many mosquitos around which was great but the ones I did see mostly hung around the toilet with a small population of ants. The shower was completely in the open-air (no one could see you though) with cold rain water funnelled through a large bamboo pipe. It was nice but confirmed what I knew already, I’m a city girl!
I was completely prepared for all the other guests at the bungalows to be on honeymoon so I was glad to meet two German guys on the boat over, and as there is no Wi-Fi, no phone, no TV and barely electricity, I hung out with them at the bar most nights playing cards and drinking mojitos. It was great to relax on the beach after a month of cities.
On Wednesday afternoon, just as a major storm was hovering on the horizon, I took the boat back to the mainland and stayed one night in Sihanoukville, thankful for a hot shower.
Now I’m back in Phnom Penh and have moved in to my apartment! It was exciting to finally get here and actually unpack things. I’m in a lovely room with an Australian girl and it’s more modern than I expected – we have air con!