I haven’t posted a blog for a while as unfortunately I’ve not been very well – the anti-malarial’s haven’t been agreeing with me; I’ve had really bad heartburn meaning I’ve been struggling to eat and drink anything and then I ate/drank something dodgy, was probably exhausted and had a little bit of heat stroke which all lead to me being really ill for a few days. So over the course of a week I’ve been trying to take it easy!
Despite this, our trip to Koh Rong Samloem was amazing. I think it’s the most beautiful place I have ever been too; crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, miles of dense jungle and stunning views.
Christmas Eve was spent trekking through the jungle to reach an abandoned light house. A local Khmer man’s based himself there and you have to pay him $1 to go up. After a steep climb up an old, rusting metal ladder we were rewarded with the breathtaking views, the island was highlighted by the strong sun and clear blue skies, you could see for miles over the horizon. Surrounding the lighthouse were old army tanks, covered in a khaki green sheet with signs saying ‘no photos’ (interesting how they are all conveniently pointing out of the island, as it they are literally ready for an attack, hmm…). The afternoon was followed by a long siesta (my god I love a siesta) and jumping off the pier watching the sunset over the jungle. In the evening we went for drinks with an Irish couple we befriended, Jenny and Kyle. We headed to a bar where the drinks were strong (and also very expensive – as is everything else on the island). Just before midnight we headed over to the ‘Jungle Rave’ which sounded really cool, it wasn’t. There were a few locals there and a handful of tourists who were off their face raving on their own, like a scene from the Inbetweeners movie. Soon after midnight we headed back to the previous bar, and before we knew it, it was 3am and we were stumbling down the beach to our places. This led to a pretty bad hangover and a very lazy Christmas day.
For boxing day we decided to take a half day boat tour and our first stop was snorkeling. I’ve never been before so I was a little nervous getting into the water and it took a while for me to get the hang of it. But once I did it was incredible; the water was crystal clear and you could see miles of coral with exotic fish swimming around you and lots of scary Sea Urchins staring at you as swam over them. After this we went to a local fishing village, M’Pei Bay. The contrast between where we were staying and this fishing village were vast; our beach was full of expensive resorts built just for tourists, with swings and hammocks dotted along the beach and flowing mojitos, creating your own paradise bubble; then your hit by reality as you enter the fishing village; its self-sufficient with no help from the government. They build their own houses, supply their own electricity, water and have their own village chief. As a sleepy fishing village it only became popular in 2005, since then, only 20% of the locals are still fisherman as there’s now more money in tourism as its becoming a hot spot to ‘get off the beaten path’. Our final stop was swimming with plankton (which was the highlight of my time on the island). With the conditions just right, complete darkness was needed. One by one we jumped into the water, and as you swam around, these tiny little specks lit up like stars illuminating your body in the water. It was like a scene from Avatar, it really was out of this world.
The following morning we returned to the mainland and headed to Otres beach. Upon arriving at the hotel you would be excused for thinking we had arrived in North Korea, the apartment was dingy, dark, felt like a prison, and I was really ill (I have genuinely never experienced anything so bad before). Poor Rob had to look after me for the 3 days we were there and I didn’t leave the room. From what Rob tells me It’s a really cool place where a lot of backpackers settle. There’s loads of cool bars, restaurants and always some sort of event happening. The sunset on the beach is stunning as you watch the sun slowly dip into the water. The main reason we came to Otres was for a half day horse riding tour and to swim with the horses after. There was no way I was going to be able to do this and I was absolutely gutted. However, I had to focus on getting better for our long journey to Hong Kong!