Oct. 24-26, 2014
Island Life in Koh Rong Island
GPS waypoint: 10°43'39.5"N 103°13'39.1"E
Location: Koh Rong Island, Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Taking the Speed Boat
With Sihanoukville feeling stale (it's probably me, not Sihanoukville), I took the 45-min $15 2-way ferry to Koh Rong Island, a quaint island known for its party scene. It was low season, so I got a room (shared washroom) for $5 at White Dragon, a beachfront guesthouse owned by locals. Bungalows are popular and there are more being built. Koh Rong Samloem is another island, more isolated and quiet, for those seeking a little silence.
Because of increased challenge getting there by ferry, it caters to the more adventurous and younger crowd - backpackers to be more specific. With that, expect the place to be a party scene - the bars get full at night, people getting hammered, dancing the hours away, meeting and sharing shots, etc. I party-ed for one night and it was fun while it lasted - hugging and buzzing complete strangers. Hardly anyone rises early as they need to nurse a hang-over.
Overheard through the thin Walls
I was already asleep in my room when I was awaken by a loud drunk voice. From how it sounded, a drunk duo who probably just met that night came back to the guy's room. In a drunkenly loud voice, the guy say, "I'm gonna fuck you now. Are you ready? I'll fuck you now. (butt slapping sounds)". Normally I'd yell at them to shut up. But I can't be blamed for staying quiet just to listen to the moaning, humping and heaving that went on all night.
Lined up on the beach front are comfy lounge seats for a cozy sunset drink. Dinners are also served by the numerous restaurants offering mostly grilled cooking. It's cool and even expected somehow to be starting small talk with your neighbor on the other table. At some point in the evening, you might already be 'close'.
A good hike tranversing the island to the other side to Long Beach is popular. For a fit hiker, it should take 45 minutes across the forest with cleared pathways. If you're too tired to hike back, or if you want to stay a little longer for the sunset, a boat will always be there to ferry passengers back to the main strip - $3/person. There is a bar/resto with bungalows for rent in Long Beach - the rest is pretty much the beach. This is the quiet part of Koh Rong. People come here for the sunset, long walks on the beach, sun bathing or chilling out.
A main draw of the island is to come out in the early morning, around 2am when the lights are out and wade through the beach. The planktons light up. I was too lazy to get up at that time, but for the majority who were still partying, it was a good reason to sober up.
What can I say? Koh Rong really did it for me. Had I known earlier, I would have bypassed Sihanoukville and head straight to Koh Rong. But as good as it lasted, it was time for me to leave after 2 nights.
Koh Rong can cost just slightly more than Siem Reap and Battambang, being an island destination, but there are still cheap good eats around specially at Run's where you can have a noodle soup for $1. White Rose offers $.50 off any item on the menu during low season.
- one mug draft beer
- 1.5 liter drinking water
- one hour massage
- muesli breakfast
- sugar cane juice in a plastic cup
- fresh coconut
- dorm beds at low season
- bungalow price at low season
- cheap fan room lodging at White Dragon in low season
- currency conversion: $1 = P44 = Cambodian riel R4,000
- no need to convert your dollars into riel. All establishments in Cambodia accepts US dollars.
- if you find yourself in Trat Terminal en route to Koh Rong, avoid booth #16 at all cost - they are scammers and thieves. You'd been warned!
- book your return ferry one day in advance. Ferry leaves for Sihanoukville at 10am and 12:30pm
- Koh Rong is a popular destination within Cambodia. It's known as the backpacker beach party place. Most tour companies and bus companies offer Koh Rong as a destination. Take note that if you are coming from Trat, Thailand and you cross the Koh Kong border after 1pm, you may have to sleep overnight to catch the bus for the following day. The Trat Immigration office closes at 10pm so make sure you arrive before they close.
- from Chatuchak Old Bus Terminal (there is a new one already but I didn't take that one), take a bus for Trat (Baht xx), 5.5 hours (11:00am to 4:30pm).
- At Trat terminal, go to booth #13 and to take the minibus for the border, Baht 120, 1.5 hours (5:25pm to 6:45pm). Avoid booth #16 who will charge you Baht 700 and promise everything they can't deliver - these people are scammers!
- at the Thai border (they close at 10pm), get your papers done and cross into the Koh Kong Cambodia border. If you arrive after 1pm, you may have to spend overnight as you may have already missed the last bus.
- take a bus from Koh Kong bus terminal to Sihanoukville. There is an 8 am and 1pm bus. 5 hours.
- total travel time for me took 15 hours without spending the night in Koh Kong
- from Sihanoukville, book a speed boat for Koh Rong, $15, two-ways
- even if you're paid two-ways, it's still best to book your return trip to Sihanoukville a day in advance to guarantee your seat
Oct. 24-26, 2014
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