So we’re almost a week into our travels and it already feels like we have been going for months, probably because the last five days have been spent in a traveling in Cambodia, doing, well, not very much at all…bliss.
We landed in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Monday 6th Feb, and after picking up sim cards, changing money and catching a taxi with ease (because Sarah made a Cambodian friend on the flight who showed us what to do), we were greeted by Marty in the lobby of our new $10 a night digs. With a few hellos and can you believe we’re actually heres, we dumped our bags, wiped the sweat from our brows and settled in for a coke and catch up time.
So Phnom Penh is not my favorite city, it’s ok, and if you haven’t traveled much probably enough of a culture shock to maintain excitement. As is though after an evening of wandering the city and some so so local food we all decided to keep going, besides it was hot as hell and the sea was beckoning.
A quick google search (wifi is truly a worldwide phenomenon) and we were heading to a tiny quite island off the coast of Kep, gangsta.
HELLO KEP, CAMBODIA TRAVEL
So we caught the bus the following day, $8 for a 3.5 hour trip, bargain, except it took about 5 hours with stops next to a frenchman who spoke no english but managed to get his point across with angry grunts and shoulder shrugs, i liked him.
Kep is more like it, a decent room for $10 and best of all, seafood! Now you know how in Perth you order prawns for $20-30 and get several and a lot of salad, well for $8 a plate of about 20 came out and I knew we were headed in the right direction. Bring on Koh Tonsay, or for some strange reason “Rabbit Island” (it does not look like a rabbit, even squinting).
$20 for our very own boat which takes you to what I can only described as the most beautiful and natural place I have ever seen, the boat pulled up to a 700 odd meter stretch of beach with about 50 beach side huts, 4 or 5 waterside “restaurants” and hammocks hanging between the multitude of coconut trees, almost all empty because there were relatively few people to ruin this far flung place, this was paradise, this was real Cambodia Travel.
We wondered down the beach checking prices and places, dodging the occasional falling coconut, until settling on an en suite for $7 a night, I say en suite, it had a toilet missing a few parts and a tap which spewed forth fresh water for showering and flushing the part toilet part hole in the ground, our bungalow also offered a king size bed with mosquito net, walls which let a much needed breeze through, and a view which needs to be seen to be believed. This was home for the foreseeable future, and I was chuffed as hell.
Bags down, trunks on, and straight into the calm Cambodian ocean which is the perfect temperature, what else could you want? meals averaging $3, seafood included, no worries, smokes for a dollar, have a carton, ice coffee with condensed milk, sure why not, paradise indeed.
5 DAYS LATER
So here is the thing about paradise, it stings, bites, burns, itches, slithers and leaves you with a nasty rash around your arse. At least these are some of the symptoms I found myself cursing after 5 days of doing very little besides eating and swimming. The rash is courtesy of the clothing store kathmandu whose quick dry range dry slower than my kmart special boxer selection. Sitting around for long periods of time in wet clothing has some undesirable effects on the body
The sting is courtesy of a mystery worm in the sea which when brushing past leaves a decidedly painful sting, the bite from the giant ants falling from trees and nipping unwary hammock dwellers, The itch from the mosquitoes which decided to attack when I had a massage at sundown (read feeding time), of course the massage was cut short by my diving into the water with shouts of “worst massage ever!”, and the slithering courtesy of a large lizard which liked to watch me going to the toilet, at least he just liked to watch.
I could continue with stories of woe, from losing the path when trekking through island jungle, to the roosters and chickens sleeping under our bungalow and screeching for an hour every morning at 5am. But truthfully as woeful as these things may sound, they only added to the experience (aside from the rash). They were counteracted with countless laughs and experiences, for example:
The restaurant we ate at most nights, where the dogs were the dishwashers, a chicken we named George Michael sat in the toilet and watched people empty there bowels, and the waiter liked to lick the spoon, and then use it again.
Or Marty’s reinvention of the card game arsehole, lovingly named c**thole and suitable for 2 players, the shrieking puppies who unwittingly sleep on footpaths and frighten unwitting backpackers, or their elders who go running with you along the beach at 6 in the morning, sit in the sea to cool down and dig up crabs in the sand.
The beautiful sunsets.
The Thick almost unnavigable jungle
Dancing with Cambodians on a work do next to the giant speakers and private generator brought on five boats.
And the people, living a life with far fewer possessions, yet happier, more accommodating, and ready to smile than any I know in the west.
I gotta say though, after 5 days my soft western body was crumbling, and I was ready for a decent shower and a soft chair to sit on, i.e. leaving, but the process was forced when after a breakfast of banana pancakes with chocolate and ice coffee with sweet milk, we realized we had run out of money, after scraping together everything we had and contemplating trading in Marty’s 5 pound note, we managed to pay what we owed and 20 minutes later, were on a boat heading for Kep.
Rabbit Island, Cambodia Travel, Paradise, it can be a pain in the arse, but man is it cool.