Sihanoukville & Koh Rong

The southern islands of Cambodia are little known compared to the Thai versions next door. We took a trip to have a look…

Sihanoukville
It took us fifteen and a half hours to get to Sihanoukville on the bus. I have never been so numb. We checked into a hostel in the backpacker area, which spans two or three roads with the beach at the end. Having fallen in love with Cambodian people, the journey made me hate them, only for me to fall in love again later. For now, all I wanted was home comforts, and they came in the form of a full English breakfast (with real Heinz beans and everything!). Sihanoukville is set up for western travellers, with everything you could need, but the novelty quickly wears off and people move on. Being next to the sea, it’s a great place for dive courses, and we did our PADI open water. Two days in a pool and two days on a boat and we were certified divers. With our scuba nation t-shirts and big grins, we went to Koh Rong Island.

Koh Rong
Cambodia’s tourism industry is far from the chaos of Bangkok, so it’s islands are pinch-yourself-you’re-dreaming beautiful. The sand is spotlessly white, clean, flat and soft. The sea is pale green, warm and so damn clean. There are beach huts, coconuts, a few trees, puppies running wild and the 30 degree sun. Each beach has a cluster of huts, the town and dock being on the main one. You can walk to the other beaches, through the island jungle or you can take a taxi boat round (for a steep price). Koh Rong doesn’t allow cars or bikes, which is just as we’ll because the tiny town has just enough room for pedestrians. We stayed for around ten days, stubbornly sitting out a few tropical storms.

Tropical island disaster was me losing my flip flop in a storm. It had been raining constantly, with thunder like the gods screaming and lightening spitting the ground around us. We stayed in our bungalow until we got hungry and then made a dash for a food place along the beach. As was custom, we left our shoes on the sand outside and went in. About halfway through a vegetable curry, the rain got harder, and I took a look out onto the beach. James laughed about being cozy inside then make some joke about our flip flops…. but it wasn’t a joke. The rain had made a river in the sand that took my flip flops with them. I ran out, thinking I could wade out and get them but it was too late. One sad flip flop was floating out to sea in a cloud of black. R.I.P to that brave flip flop, I’ll never forget you old friend.

The ticket is $10 each way, and it’s a good idea to confirm your travel date in advance. From Koh Rong you can take a boat to its twin Koh Rong Samolen. The bigger of the two, it offers much of the same attractions and more great beaches. There are fourteen islands in total, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and Koh Rong was far from broke.

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