No paved roads, no decent internet connection, and not even a TV; only an island paradise with fine white sandy beach and clear blue waters that could definitely rival those of Thailand, or even in the Philippines. Island life may be dull and boring for some but I loved the freedom we had at Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia; the liberty to do nothing, away from the bustles and anxiety from the city life. It was pure bliss; having the luxury of time to stare all day at nature’s wonder.
|The Port at Saracen Bay, Koh Rong Samloem|
Being the best travel researchers in the world, we didn’t know that there are two main “Koh Rong” islands; Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. We had prior booking reservations and were each asked by our friendly boatman of our destination. Apparently, we’re booked on a resort in Koh Rong Samloem, the more quiet side of the two.
The midnoon sun shone brightly to this quiet island. I could hear no party music, no noisy chatter and not even a single human sound. The slow splatters of waves were the only thing that’s echoing through.
The three-kilometer crescent of blindingly fine white sand beach was breathtaking. The clear waters were in different shades of blue. The first few minutes of our walk was surreal, the minutes that followed were a punishment.
|Powdery White Sand|
We saw a few resorts, a police station, one (just one) minimart and nothing else. I’ve heard of Full Moon Parties that are organized here but I think it wouldn’t be as crazy as the Full Moon Party in Koh Pangan, Thailand.
We were famished from the half day journey and the disagreement with our former lodging that we settled for a costly lunch on a restaurant that day. Based from the menu, I sensed that Koh Rong Samloem is somewhat an expensive island, in backpacker’s standards. Our meal of one serving of fish amok and one cup of rice set us back at $8. In the Philippines’ famed island paradise of Boracay, you’d feed three persons with that price and quality of food served.
|Our Cheap Beachfront Accommodation|
Me and my buddy looked for our options which isn’t that much. We found an unnamed resort with native bungalows and shared bathroom for $25 per night. Maybe it was the gloom on my face that they showed us some rooms for rent at $20 per night. After haggling really hard, we got the unassuming room for $25 for our two-night stay.
|Chill Spot for One Whole Day|
We frolicked on the powdery white sand and clear cerulean waters with two local kids. We also had an afternoon beer stint as me and my buddy talked about our dreams, travel plans and whatnots. We literally did nothing but accomplished many things. It was actually the first time we spent a solid 14 hours on the beach and I could totally write my essay about it in minutes.
|Our Early Morning Buddies|
There’s a little bit of sadness as I leave this island paradise, but the longing for the normalcy of life seemed more powerful. Maybe because we had no money to spare and indulge on a decent resort or even for a nice meal or maybe the deafening silence and order that overly calmed our souls made us yearn for the chaotic life outside this dreamland.
|Break of Dawn|
Or maybe we had no connection at all with the island because the locals were all too preoccupied on the tourism industry that they seem to almost forget the very essence of tourism—the opportunity to experience the locals’ way of life. I can’t actually identify it but I have no attachment or whatsoever with Koh Rong Samloem, which saddens me, really.
|Crystal Clear Waters|
Koh Rong Samloem is truly a nature’s gift to mankind. I heaved a sigh of relief as we landed back on our home in Sihanoukville. The warmth of their smiles and greetings made me feel at home once again. We walked over to Otres Beach and watched Cambodia’s glorious sunset. Back to the daily grind; the backpacker’s way.