On the second day in Phnom Penh the boys boarded a bus headed north for Siem Reap whilst me and Jen went in the opposite direction; towards the coast. Our other housemate who had decided to motorobike all the way from Ho Chi Minh City was due to meet us there too.
Our destination was a coastal town called Sihanoukville. Now, it was a nice place and it was great to see the sea, but to be honest it was a bit of a tourist trap. Hundreds of essentially identical bars lined the beach, all with the same beach umbrellas, slightly out of date western music and menus offering ‘western specialities’. It could have been any place in Greece, Turkey or Spain. This was made worse by the northern English girls working as bar promoters, touting free shots and booze cruises. It was like a cringey scene from the ‘Inbetweeners Movie’. Don’t get me wrong, I like going out, but I’m not so into that whole travelling partying scene where you make your way through Asia by navigating the tacky neon bars with other sunburnt westerners in string vests.
Our real aim was to get out to the islands. There are a few big ones with lots of resorts and guesthouses on and a few smaller, sparsely populated ones. We booked a boat trip around them, stopping at a few and snorkelling. We also arranged to stay in a beach bungalow on one of the beaches for a night. We had no idea really where we were going or what we had actually booked. Turns out we’d agreed to stay on Koh Ka Tieu, a tiny island about an hour away. It only had one set of accommodation; ten tree houses on the beach maintained by a man named Joel. Joel had lived there for three years with no electricity, no running water and no other technology. He was elusive and aloof, upon being asked how he’d ended up there he purely answered ‘luck’ and got back to battering a fish he’d caught. He used to be a chef, specialising in Italian food so the meals he made were delicious.
There were only 10 other people on the whole island: us, Joel and his local staff, then the other guests; a Dutch student, a Norwegian trance music producer and his Danish girlfriend. We loved it so much we ended up staying for three days. The only buildings were handmade wooden huts with grass roofs, one for a kitchen, one for eating in, one wooden shed with a hole in the ground for a toilet, and one wooden shed with a bucket of rain water for washing in! I made the mistake of waiting until the evening to shower when it was dark, which resulted in having to shower with very cold water in a dark shed lit only by a candle!
There was no electricity or contact with the outside world so we spent the days sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling, jungle trekking and the evenings drinking, chatting and watching shooting stars. I can’t really describe how beautiful this place was, so the next best thing is to show you the photos. Apologies for the size different, I have stolen them from two seperate cameras. Enjoy!
Sunset picture posing.
Yup that’s me, flying.