Before heading to the island of Koh Rong I had a couple of nights in Sihanoukville and due to the inning with both the lunar new year and a big Russian festival (which was actually cancelled) accommodation was scarce and double the normal cost, I had to find my hostel on Airbnb. But once I arrived at Sihanoukville I checked into the very nice Backpackers Heaven a sweaty 1km walk away from the bus station.
The first day was an easy recovery day from the night bus an simply involved of jumping on the back of a motorbike to the main area of Sihanoukville - the Golden Lion Circle and Serendipity Beach to meet back up with my Canadian friend, Craig. The town is just a tourist trap of restaurants and Serendipity beach (in daylight) is lined with bars and restaurants and whilst the beach is nice and the sea a tropical blue, you can't help but notice all the rubbish that is everywhere. Not a beach you want to sunbathe on or a sea to swim in. But so good to be back by the sea and in scorching temperatures. At night, Serendipity beach adopts a different feel with chairs and tables set out all down the beach by each restaurant. We plonked ourselves at a table and ordered our 50 cent beers and watched the beach sellers walking up and down selling fireworks. All along the beach front fireworks were being set off which added a bit of atmosphere, even if seriously flaunting any western health and safety rules of holding fireworks whilst they go off and lighting them in a crowd. One of the bigger fireworks exploded on the ground amongst the tables, somehow it didn't look like anyone was hurt. Then I found one of the many motorbike taxis lining the street back to the hostel.
The following day was an even harder day of sunbathing. Haven ran into Craig and saying goodbye to him, I met up with some more Canadians, Jenn and Warren for a day on Otres 1 beach. This beach is stunning and even more so when compared to Serendipity beach. Finding some sun loungers we stayed there for several hours with the occasional dip in the sea to cool off and the odd beer. Granted you get hassled by street hawkers (mainly children) selling bracelets, sunglasses and massages. Despite that it still felt like a bit of paradise. Worn out from the sun, we headed to town and once freshened up and forked out $25 for a speedboat ticket to Koh Rong, we found a cost Spanish restaurant, Olé, for really tasty tapas before heading back to the beach for beers and watching the fireworks.
Time to head to the island for a few chill out days on a beach, but apprehensively, having only heard horror stories from Craig about illness, bedbugs, rubbish and lack of accommodation (still due to the lunar new year) so I was on the 8.30am speedboat to beat the crowds and find accommodation. As I got off the boat, wow, it looked great...turquoise clear sea, guesthouses all lining the beach and loads of greenery. Yep, I didn't think it would be hard to kill five nights there (too easy). Ran into my Danish friend, Ole and after breakfast I went to find somewhere to sleep which was easier than expected although a bit more at $8 a night at the Cambodia Guesthouse. The first day was spent off the main strip at Police beach and it was picture perfect. After spending the day sunbathing there, in search of food we ran into Max and chilled at some restaurant for the rest of the afternoon, followed by an evening drinking in Cocos bar with a terrible attempt at beer pong and where we found out about a Russian party boat that was rocking up the following day to go over to some more isolated island...count me in.
So the next day was party boat day and, of course as its Asia, it was running an hour late. Least it gave Ole, Max and I time to change rooms that staying in, get breakfast and stock up on some alcohol to take on to the boat. Then out of nowhere the boat arrives with a bunch of Russians on board. We get on and find a spot to chill on the upper deck and cracked open the beers as we pulled away from Koh Rong in search of Koh Tang. It was a brilliant trip, it wasn’t a very busy boat and nothing like the party boats of Koh Phi Phi in Thailand but hey, this was more chilled. The booze flowed and I was definitely tipsy by the time we reached the other island. And the sky was blue, the sea even bluer and the sun shining. What more could you want? After a couple of hours, we reached Koh Tang and it was picture perfect, not that I’ve been to the Maldives but the intense colours of the tropical island could probably rival it, as well as the clearness of the water! We had a few hours here being able to enjoy the remoteness and explore the tropical fish and crabs and soaking up the sun, admittedly with a few beverages on us. We piled back on the boat as the sun was setting behind the island providing a beautiful scene. Took a while to get back to Koh Rong, as we managed to lose the small boat that was being towed so that took a bit of time going back to collect it out at sea and tying it up again. That evening we found a great fake McDonald burger joint on the beach for, well obviously, a big greasy burger to soak up the booze.
The next three days on Koh Rong was perfect, and included doing a boat trip with Ole and Max around the island snorkelling and fishing, not that I managed to catch a single fish and watching the sun set from Long Beach on the other side of the island. We also managed to run into Jen and Warren for a couple of days of chilling out on the 4k beach, which is just lovely. Who knew Cambodia had such picture perfect beaches and islands! We even had the pleasure of buying some homemade cakes from a local woman and I don’t have a sweet tooth but they were good. The lads won a tug of war competition with a group of British lads we met, so that evening was spent celebrating with the bottle of cheap whiskey they won. The final day on the island was my birthday celebrations, which was obviously spent chilling on the beach, eating the cake as our woman walked past. Needless to say the evening was very boozy and was lucky to have a good group out to celebrate with me. Even managed to blag a few free shots from the barman. A great birthday night and a great place to celebrate it.
The following day was my actual birthday and we headed back on the ferry over to Sihanoukville. Jenn, Warren and I sat in a restaurant waiting for Ole to arrive, only for the owner to get really arsey that we only wanted to order a drink and refused to serve us. So we refused to leave until Ole got off his ferry, the guy wasn’t impressed. Oh well. As it was my birthday I booked a nice hotel, the Serendipity Beach Resort, and spent the day chilling out, eating junk, dumping my passport with an agency to get my Vietnamese visa for a cool $60, watching films on HBO and said goodbye to Warren and Jenn. And for my birthday meal I jumped on the back of a motorbike taxi to go pick up some fried chicken to eat in bed. Loved it. The final day and night saw me back in a hostel, One Stop which was pretty decent and had a nice small pool and again just eating and chilling out, mainly at the hostel and sat in bed watching a couple of films before passing out.