Saturday, April 23, 2016

Off the beaten track A Piece of Paradise: Sok San Beach in Koh Rong Cambodia






April 13-15 2016

     The moment we left the island I felt like going back and spend more days there lazing around and swim to my heart's content, away from the rest of the world. It didn't have a "SAGADA" effect but trust me when I say its the best beach I've ever been. White sandy beach and when I say white it's very white and the finest sand thus far.
     The pristine and turquoise water is worth the long travel. As I've said on my previous blog I like Cambodia... Siem Reap in particular I never thought I'll be back soon. I didn't stay in Siem Reap this time though my cousins stayed there for 2 days. Well its us again me and my cousins and a friend but this time there's 7 of us. Since I have summer class I didn't get to stay in Siem Reap the three of us (a cousin and our friend) followed on the 2nd day.

WHY in Koh Rong?

When we were planning our trip for the Songkran holiday here in Thailand there were alot of places that we want to go but we ended up with Cambodia since some of our cousins haven't been there and as I've said I like Siem Reap. We want to go out of Thailand since it's chaotic here every Songkran and honestly I never experienced Songkran festival, I'm always out of the country every Songkran festival so there's that...We were only thinking of Siem Reap but I found this article of places that are not yet famous for tourists more like the road less traveled. I found Koh Rong on the list there's Kep Cambodia too but we chose Koh Rong. I did some research, I found out that its a long travel and there's no electricity there but that didn't bother me. 

     What made us want to go there was the fact that there's not a lot of people, it's a perfect place to relax. My cousin did some further research and found out so many good reviews and blog about the place and the fact that "Survivor America" shoot there made us decide that it's should be the place we will be spending our holiday. We booked our accommodation at Sok San beach resort, that's done deal for us no more backing out. We were concerned for our safety since its far and not a lot of people and no electricity and all that but since its a done deal we really have to go. While waiting for the day we are getting more excited, the pictures on the internet are all very enticing.

Getting there
Siem Reap ---> Phnom Pehn ---> Sihanoukville ---> Sok San Beach Resort

     Siem Reap to Sihanoukville would take 11 to 12 hours. We took a night bus to Sihanoukville as I've mentioned in my previous blog a night bus is a bus with a bed. From Siem Reap we traveled all the way to Sihanoukville though they stopped in Phnom Pehn to dropped some passengers.
     We bought ferry tickets for $15 (original price is $10 but since its Cambodian holiday they added 5 dollars) there are two options: the speed boat ($15)1hour, the slow boat ($10) 2hours.
     There are two piers in Koh Rong island the personnel will tell you if its your pier or not. When we arrived in the pier we thought it was it but NOPE! geez it was another 45 minutes boat ride. Imagine our reactions, we were very tired and all we want to do is lie down on our beds but nope we still have to travel. So off we go Oh we paid $5 each for the boat ride. It was scary at first since the boat was small and the waves are big, but we were fine because there's a life vest and they are travelling along the island. After 45 minutes or maybe an hour FINALLY! we reached our destination!

For more information on how to get into Koh Rong click this link:

http://wikitravel.org/en/Koh_Rong

Accommodation
     We stayed at Sok San Beach Bungalows. Its not the typical air conditioned room. The cottages are very simple. Beds, fan and toilet that's it. The toilet is decent enough so we were good with that. who needs air conditioner when the sea breeze is blowing right through the open door and at night there's a fan to cool off the heat.            They have their own restaurant and the food are all yummy. The owner Julian (I'm not sure if my spelling is correct) is very helpful and friendly as well as his wife a Cambodian native. I want to put an emphasis on SIMPLE and BASIC accommodation because Julian said earlier that day they had 4 check-outs because they didn't expect it to be THAT simple.

Click here for more information and for booking:
http://www.booking.com/hotel/kh/sok-san-beach-bungalows-koh-rong-island.html


Wow just Wow
After we were able to settle in our rooms, ate lunch and took our nap finally we were able to appreciate the beauty of the place. The sparkling waters, the white and the soft and very fine sand, the peace, the solitude and the most important part? the lack of people around. It was also the Cambodian New Year so most of the villagers went to the city. It was PERFECT!
     I couldn't wait to dip myself in the water so I forced myself to wake up from dreamland put on my swim wear and swim. Among us I love the beach the most so it was always me who would dive in first. We had our "merienda" (snack time in the afternoon) at the balcony, we had photo session and we played Frisbee. Ughhhhh! writing this blog makes me wanna go back there (cries). 

At night
No internet! you think we would panicked? Nope! we always know how to entertain ourselves. After dinner we talked, sang, danced, Julian let us use their speakers so we can have our music.They fired some fire crackers for the New Year. During the day they don't have electric power on the cottages but if you want to charge your phone they have charging station at their restaurant. There's electrical power at night so we can charge our phones and use the ceiling fan. They have a 2G WiFi but its too slow so we didn't bother to connect.

The next day (Photo shoot, Swimming, snorkeling, fishing, Long beach, sunset and the magical bio-luminescent plankton)

I woke up to the sound of the waves lapping on the shore. I was excited for the day ahead. Changed to swimsuit and picked my teddy Skye for our photo session. After the photo session we had breakfast then swimming and did some jumping from the dock. Beach bungalows doesn't have an available boat for snorkeling so we went to other resort and luckily they had an available boat for us. We made acquaintance with three Slovakian guys since they were looking for a boat too so they joined us...well...we stayed in the same resort so there's that too...

(Aside from the boat, there's a trek going to the Long beach)

Oh dear!

There are a lot of disappointing things with our trip. First was there's no life vest!!! one of my cousin panicked because she's afraid of the water and the boat is small. Then the guides are two kids (that's fine with us). Good thing there's one life vest on the boat so she used it and the rest of us leave it to faith and fate. I asked the guys if they can swim which they answered yes so I jokingly said "Save us" if anything happens (hahaha)
Secondly the snorkeling site is not good. I mean it supposed to be a very good spot for the fact that its an uninhabited part but nope its not a good site at all. There are plastics floating. There are corals but not a lot of fish. I like snorkeling and it was always a disappointment I mean I did snorkeling in Prachuap near Hua Hin and the site is not good. So far Puerto Prinsesa has the best snorkeling site I've been to. The three guys saved this poor crab that got trapped in a net. We were at ease with them for some reason. I think they are nice people. After snorkeling we went farther from the island to fish but we ended up getting dizzy because of the big waves. Some of us gave up and we just lie down. We didn't have the beginner's luck only one of my cousin caught 2 fish and the two kids caught some. The three guys didn't have much luck either (smiles). After fishing we went to the Long Beach and for me its a PERFECT beach! I super love it there. It is like a location in a movie or in a book it's just PERFECT. The water and the sand is just perfect....ughhhh wanna go back (cries)
We had a mini picnic on the island we ate some fruits and they cooked the fish.
We had the entire beach for ourselves! Isn't it "sugoi"? (Japanese word for amazing) For an hour or so we enjoyed swimming. The Slovakian guys managed to get some coconuts and somehow shared it with us (aren't they nice?). We finished up then had a sunset viewing on the boat then we were supposed to swim with the sparkling plankton but the water is deep so no one wants to dip in. The plankton lit up or react to movements so we keep shaking our hands but we cannot see it clearly only bits of the it. The  guys said we can actually see the plankton in front of our cottages (laughs). We were like "why you didn't tell us" and they were like "we thought you girls knew". We decided to head back to the main island and that's how we ended our day. Despite of all the not so good things we had FUN. 

Back at the cottage

We showered and ate a sumptuous dinner for our last night in the island.
Since everyone was beaten from our trip they retire to bed early but me and my cousin XYZ waited till midnight or more like for the whole place to get dark so we can see the sparkling plankton. We were going to give up waiting since we were so sleepy but Yobo (I'm not sure if the spelling is correct) one the Slovakian guys approached us and said that we have to wait a little bit more. Finally the other resort turn off their lights, the place was dark and we thought the sea would lit up like what we saw on the internet but again NOPE, we have to go in the water to see them. Two of the Slovakian guys accompanied us, they really waited till midnight to accompany us (did I already mention that they're nice? Oh yes I did and I'm mentioning it again...they are nice (hahaha)). The sparkling plankton was SPECTACULAR it's like in the movie or in a fantasy book when something magical happens or when you watch an anime and the scene has this sparkly thing that's the experience... simply amazing. It's like fireflies underwater. I'm not sure how long we stayed in the water... we talked with the guys they had stories about their own travel, actually it was XYZ who did most of the talking since I was busy with the sparkling plankton. Those guys are fun to be with. I know... I know...I know... a pair of guys and girls swimming in the middle of the night? I know right?... this is supposed to be the part where something romantic will happen just like in a movie or book but NOPE! nothing happened (hahahaha) it was just a pleasant swim with the sparkling plankton. So you see this is the beauty of travelling...you strike a conversation with strangers, exchange stories and adventures, learn from each others experiences and that's it. We decided to head back, uttered our thanks to them and after a quick shower we finally retire to our beds.

Time to go home
The time has come for us to return to the outside world. We ate our breakfast, checked out thanked the staff and we head to the boat that would take us back to the main pier. We waited for the slow boat for an hour or so. We head back to the city. We were supposed to go straight to Bangkok but the staff said there's no bus going straight to Bangkok because they closed the border, so we booked for a night bus to Siem Reap then from Siem Reap we took a van to Poipet and we took a bus going home.



Koh Rong






 Sok San Beach Resort



 








Our Cottage




Us!






































     
 

 
              





Snorkeling, Fishing, Long Beach and Sunset 
































Of selfies and ladies














Skye the Traveler (Teddy Bear)

 
 



 





 Food!






On the move...












Good bye friends!














Thoughts:

Where do broken hearts GO? I thought it was in SAGADA but now it should be in Sok San Koh Rong Cambodia (hahaha). It is a place where you can relax, reflect, enjoy some peace and appreciate God's creation. I can do all my fave things there like read a book, watch the horizon, drowned in the serenity of the place and just laze around. The simplicity of the place, the people...their lives reminds me of HOME. 

Some points:

*We took the night bus to Sihanoukville because we went to Siem Reap
but it might be less tiring to fly straight in Phnom Penh. I'm not sure if
Sihanoukville has an airport...so...
*DO NOT book a bus with VIRAK BUNTHAM. They don't have good service and they don't have single beds so you have to sleep with a stranger and that's scary. Among all the night buses we've been VIRAK BUNTHAM is the worst.
For more information...
http://www.adventuresaroundasia.com/2015/03/20/horrible-cambodia-night-bus-adventure/
*It is okay not to do snorkeling and just go straight to Long beach
*Bring lots of snacks or food (laughs)
*If traveling on a shoestring which we always do, we always sleep on the bus,
wait where it is free to sit down for a long time or if you have extra money go to a cafe
or coffee shop and always have something to eat in your bag.
*Cambodia is not that good in their waste management so please be a good soul
and dispose your waste properly.  Some parts of the sea is dirty already.
*Go to Sok San beach resort.
*Check in at Sok San Beach Bungalows and not the NEW Beach Bungalow
*Have fun!




"Travel is the GORGEOUS feeling of teetering in the UNKNOWN"