The boat fighting itself through the waves as they smash against the sides sending a fine spray of mist through the air. People being tossed around in their seats, some running for the edge to expel the contents of their previous night in Sihanoukville. Myself, sitting relaxed, puffing my spliff, I zoned in on the horizon awaiting the island paradise to come in to view. Good vibes were emanating from this island all over Southeast Asia as stories were told by all. The reputation brought you in, the aura kept you there.
Finding my bag in the mound, I removed my sandals (won’t need these for a while) and headed for the sand. There are no roads here, just warm soft sand sifting through the toes wherever one walks. I found a room at the White Dragon, convenience store in the bottom and directly across from the ‘hospital’ (more of a pharmacy with wound cleaning). Restaurants to either side, this looked ideal. And, so begins the most relaxing, lazy and unproductive 3.5 weeks of my trip.
First thing on my agenda, roll another up, find that comfy chair, gaze out at the turquoise vista and start the development of my ass groove. Almost embarrassingly so, I barely left this balcony very often. Ultimately I had no motivation to lounge on the beach too many days or really do anything at all. I sat taking in the sea breeze avoiding the scorch of the sun and sand in a comatose like state enjoying a taste of what I hope retirement holds in store.
The night life is about as prominent as the drug scene here. Easily avoidable, (if you just want to chill on a balcony) but just at the tip of the fingers. The rules pretty lax here so it’s easy to let your freak flag fly. The only form of law enforcement that I saw was a single officer, who was in the dockside restaurant where I ate dinner more often than not drinking with his buddies. To the right of the docks is generally where you get jiggy with it on any given night. Most bars pumping (Coco’s, Sky Bar, Island Boys, Vagabonds), until 2am until the obligatory power cuts. Sometimes there is loop holes to this if the masters of the generators decide it so. Once the darkness takes over the island though, drunk or high, whatever you may be, don’t forget to run into the shallows (preferably naked) and frolic in the bioluminescence.
I did manage to make it to 4 of the beaches scattered around the island. The main one of course where the accommodation is built up, a mere step away. Then there is Police Beach where a full moon party of smaller scale takes place along with other shindigs. 4k beach, presumably named after its length only a short walk away is a bit more private and quiet day away from the masses. Unfortunately though for lack of an efficient garbage system the beach is slightly littered from the tide washing debris ashore.
Postcard perfect, the finest white sand that squeaks under the foot like snow, pristine crystal clear water. The most beautiful beach I’ve personally seen in the Gulf of Thailand. Long Beach is either a boat ride around the island to the opposite side or a potentially treacherous, safety free 45 minute hike across it with the chance of snakebite. I preferred walking across, getting some much needed exercise and making a beeline for the water as soon as my feet hit the sand. Then laze on the return boat while the sun sets. Many come here with a hammock camping for free as long as they desire. A group of us rented hammocks for $5 (purchase for $15) and spent the night swinging just above the sand. Fire on the beach, beers and rotating spliffs made the idea of civilization fade away temporarily. Morning came with the best way to wake up. Sprint through the powder of paradise into the aquamarine bliss.
Unfortunately being an island community and a new one at that, there is always problems to overcome that are now being faced. It has developed enough that garbage has become an issue taking it to and from the island. A recycling program was trying to be put in place as I was there. Hopefully it has taken off and recycling becomes the norm. Another obvious problem is sewage. What you plan to forget as soon as it’s expelled from you makes a guest appearance wafting around some sections of the main area.
This island was a vacation from my vacation. The hundreds of recommendations did not come lightly and with good reason. A place I ‘planned’ (a vague term) a week and spent 3.5. It was one of the most difficult places I’ve ever left. I avoided the boat like the plague as if it was going to take me to an infected community. This was a safe haven, speaking for itself based on the community of expats. As always with no ATMs and maxing out the loan system presented by a couple establishments, I was broke. Sadly the day had come when I boarded the ferry back with faith that I would return and hopefully they can surpass their growing concerns and preserve the pristine natural beauty that is Koh Rong.