Reasons to Travel – Number Seven – Ending Up On A Desert Island

reasons to travel 6

Reasons to Travel 

Number Seven

You May End Up Living On A Desert Island

Having not had enough of the perfect days on Koh Rong and Monkey Island but under a tight deadline for our evil overlords in Phnom Penh,we hired a private fishing skiff to take us on the 45-minute boat ride to Koh Rong Saleom Island.

A private boat means you don’t have to get the shuttle back, but of course you forfeit your $15.00 return ticket between Koh Rong and the mainland. On a high point you do get that rock-star feeling when you know you are completely working to your own agenda.

You can ask one of the fishermen on Koh Rong to take you over, the going rate for two to four people is between $25.00 and $35.00 but you should leave before 1pm.

If you are heading to Koh Rong Saloem be sure you have called the booking office at Lazy Beach.  There are no day trips to the island and not having a reservation is likely to lead to you being turned away.

Docking into the small 1km wide cove of shallow translucent water we were greeted by one of the resorts staff and shown to our bungalow after a complimentary soft drink in the bar.

The bungalowsare larger than most we had stayed in previously and contain two double beds, which makes each hutideal for a group of four to share.  Each hasa private en-suite toilet and shower serviced by cold water warmed up by the day’s ample sunshine.

The bathrooms and the beach huts are spotlessly clean reminiscent of a standard you would find in a five star resort, upon inspection there was not a Gecko poo or ant infestation to be found, much to the delight of my bug adverse partner. The mosquito nets drape fully over the bed ensuring you can sleep a full night without waking up with a bottom ready to play dot to dot on.

The water in Lazy Beach is shallow, starting at around two feet and going out into the bay for some thirty meters before you start to not be able to put your feet down on the bottom, the beach is clean and is straddled with rocky outcrops at either side making it a perfect snorkeling spot.

An hour swimming around with a snorkel can result in your introduction to small reef sharks , cuttlefish, stingrays, turtles, a the variety of tropical fish that populate the shallows.

The vibe in the bar and communal area is very relaxed. The wide open decked bar is dotted with hammocks and inviting wide satellite dish like chairs that allow you to lean back and chill out whilst peering watching a dark orange sun plunge head first into the oceans horizon at sunset.

The three Americans that help to run the resort have been waylaid on their travels for the past five months or so, having been invited to stay by the resorts owners they seem to have “got stuck” in a place many people only dream of.

Being from Portland, this is a role that they seem only too comfortable with, being both chilled and at the same time highly attentive when it comes to customer service.

Again I was pleasantly surprised by the choice and variety of food offered on the menu, a wide selection of Khmer and Western food includes battered fish and chips for $6.00, BBQ Ribs for $6.00, Pad Thai with chicken at $4.75.  The menu is a big one with over 60 different dishes to choose from you could be work your way through it with just a month’s stay.

A pretty awesome music selection plays during the day to compliment the chilled out ambiance.  The bar closes when the last person goes to bed, so if you are a bar fly then be prepared to enter in for the long haul.  Drinks prices are comparable to the mainland with a beer Lao costing $1.25 and a premium spirit with a mixer $2.75 so boozing will not break the bank.

There is a winding path through the light jungle cover, past the occasional macaque monkey mocking you from high up in the canopy to the other side of the island.  It takes around twenty-five minutes to walk over, about twenty minutes in the path breaks cover and the opens up into a green grass plateau where you could be forgiven to thinking you had just walked onto the set of Lost.  A further five minutes down the wind the track widens and unfolds into what I can honestly say is the most amazing beach I have stepped foot on in Cambodia.

The beach stretches around a shallow cove for miles around, being set between a pier at one end and The Freedom Guest house at the other.

The shallow water stretches out into the bay for eons.  Even if you swim out you can see your feet perfectly beneath you as the water never seems to become murky.

A ten minute walk along the beach will lead you to a number of freshwater streams where the jungle water trickles out into the ocean all of them teeming with baby fish. Go during a quiet time and you will find yourself alone on kilometers of empty pristine beach.

The good news is that looks as though the island will remain sufficiently untouched for a good while yet.  The whole area is an unofficial conservation zone, home to the Cambodian Navy, two dive conservation resorts in the fishing villages, Freedom and Lazy Beach.

A brief spell on Koh Rong Saloem will allow you to become acquainted with rare sea eagles, mongooses, black, red and ginger squirrels, a variety of lizards and massive horn bills straight out of the Jungle Book.

As well as walking to the other side of the island you can also walk to the old abandoned lighthouse.  You will need to be reasonably fit for the three and a half hour return walk.  It’s normal to take a packed lunch from the bar and eat it whilst looking out over the island set beneath you.

If walking is not your thing consider a fishing trip leaving at 4.30pm in the evening and returning into the bay around 8.30pmagain for just $5.00.If you return victorious you can bring your catch back and the staff will prepare it for you in return for a small donation of your choosing.

You can hire snorkeling equipment for $1.00 per use and snorkel on either side of the bay; it is normal to see turtles, baby reef sharks, cuttlefish and the wide variety of tropical fish that populate the area.

There is also a badminton court, covered ping-pong table, and a volley ball court, which I was reliably told is home to an awesome island volleyball team.

If it happens to be raining for a while during your stay the staff have carefully selected a wide variety of board games including Naked Guess Who – exactly the same as normal guess who except for the fact that all of the characters are naked.  This can lead to the occasional call of “Has yours got fat tits?” at the bar – don’t worry it is just a game.

If you do head down to Lazy beach take our tip and walk out into the shallow water at night when the power is off, the resulting bio-luminescence of the plankton around you will light up the area in a cacophony of white, blue and turquoise phosphorous lights around you.

You will find 16 bungalows at Lazy beach, they cost $30 per bungalow per night. The boat ride takes two and a half hours from the mainland on a converted fishing boat costing $10.00.  It leaves the island at 8.30 am each day and departs the mainland at 12.00 pm arriving at 2.30pm island side.

If you want to book we suggest you call at least two weeks in advance, as Lazy Beach is quite justifiably busy during high season. Who knows you may end up staying.

Contact Lazy Beach Booking office 016-214-211.