Saturday, 25 October 2014

Koh Rong in Cambodia

After a twelve and a half hour overnight bus from Siem Reap, we arrived in Sihanoukville. We travelled in a 'hotel bus', which was a lot nice than other buses we have travelled on in Asia, despite not having the light, TV, WiFi or free bottle of water that we were promised when we booked. Standard. The driver also refused to stop for long enough at one particular designated stop for everyone to use the toilet and started to drive off while Emily, myself and others were still queuing! There was someone actually still inside the loo and we briefly thought the driver wasn't actually going to wait for them!

You can read about our visits to the Temple of Angkor and Siem Reap in a previous blog post here.  

As we've come to expect, we were greeted by a noisy crowd of tuk tuk drivers at the Sihanoukville bus station. We were pleased that there was actually an official looking board with the tuk tuk prices on it, rather than trying to negotiate a fee without knowing distance etc. For 6 USD we were driven in a tuk tuk to the Koh Rong Diving Center ferry booking office, where we booked round trip tickets to the island of Koh Rong for 20 USD each, before being driven further to the ferry port.

We had heard great things about Koh Rong from our friend Jess who had visited previously and it sounded great in the Lonely Planet guide book too.

We were pleased to only have a short wait and enough time for breakfast, before boarding the late-running ferry to Koh Rong. The crossing was only around 45-minutes as advertised and we were so relieved to get off, as it was super choppy! Emily and I both had to concentrate on not throwing up, even though neither of us usually get travel sick. Turns out if you sit too near the back, you get really wet from waves coming over the side of the boat, so lots of people had to huddle towards the front of the boat after finding out the hard way, which was quite funny.

After the scrum to find our bags when getting off the boat, we instantly knew that we would love our stay on Koh Rong. The island was beautiful and the water was crystal clear, even in the area where all the boats dock. We walked off the jetty onto the beach and were greeted by a couple of guys who asked us if we needed a room. We thought they would do the usual sales patter for a specific guest house, but it turns out they were just people that had been staying on the island for a long time and wanted to help new arrivals! They suggested a few options of places to stay and we booked into Ty Ty guest house, for an incredibly cheap 5 USD a night [around 3 GBP!] The room was pretty basic, in fact the whole guest house was kind of like a wooden shed! But it was fairly clean, there was a mozzy net and clean bedding and free WiFi to use on a nice communual balcony at the front. It was exceptionally great value all in all!

A photo posted by Josh Kinnersley (@joshkinnersley) on

We spent most of our time relaxing and reading on Four Thousand Beach, which was a short walk from our guest house on the main strip. When I say main strip, I mean a small collections of bars and restaurants, with really low prices [especially compared to all the Thai islands we've been to] and without people trying to give you the hard sell outside. Such a refreshing change. We ate loads of great food and enjoyed lots of lovely cold beer. There were other beaches further away that we could have visited, but we had such a nice time relaxing under a big tree on the 4k Beach that we didn't want to wander any further. Emily and I both spend most of our time at the beach in the shade to avoid burning and always wander how people manage to sunbathe for so long and get good tans without seeming to put on any suncreen!

On our travels around Asia, we've encountered lots of very bad looked after and/or stray dogs, with visibly poor health. It was so lovely to see so many adorable dogs being well looked after in Koh Rong, including one cute puppy with 'BETTY' written in sparkly material on her collar. This cheeky chappy had a good nibble on Emily's bag during breakfast one morning, but we let him off as he was so cute!

The power on the island is switched off between midday-1pm and 2am-8am every day, which doesn't really cause any inconvenience. The whole island was just so relaxed and not a party island at all, which was what we had wanted. We read in the guide book that plans to build a ring road and airport and turn the island into somewhere similar to Koh Samui in Thailand have stalled, which is great news as this would very quickly ruin the relaxed island vibe. I don't think many regular holidaymakers would head to Koh Rong as it's not so easy to get to as lots of resorts in Asia, so it's mainly just backpackers enjoying this island paradise.

We stayed in Koh Rong for three nights in total, before heading back to the mainland. We then jumped on a bus to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, which my next blog post is about.

A photo posted by Josh Kinnersley (@joshkinnersley) on

A photo posted by Josh Kinnersley (@joshkinnersley) on

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