Koh Rong

Travel to Koh Rong today. What is Koh Rong? It’s one of many destination islands off the coast of Cambodia, and one of the largest in the region. The transportation to the pier and the wait for the boat to arrive were all typical of how things run here – no real plan or organization to speak of and everyone just sort of does their own thing, and things usually manage to happen. Today, it was a “slow” ferry to the island, but to be honest, it didn’t look much slower than the fast ferry. But, the minute the boat left the harbor, the seasickness began for many aboard and never abated, at least on the top floor of the “backpackers ferry,” as it was called. Pretty sure our slow boat stopped to offload some of the sick passengers on what was billed as the fast ferry.
Pretty soon the island came into near view, and after running into friends yet again, which really seems to happen often these days, we tramped off together, no one really knowing where we were going or what we were doing, perhaps one person had a vague idea, but no one really knows.
First we went west along the shore of the island,

koh rong kids
koh rong kids
and we saw a pair of dogs stuck together who couldn’t separate after having (obviously) doggy-style sex,
stuck-together dogs
stuck-together dogs
and there was a tiny beach or two a kilometer west of the port, but we eventually had to reverse course
this is not long beach
this is not long beach
to go to the real gem, Long Beach, which turned out to be the best adventure of the day. Early on, you ascend at a measured and even pace, with no particular obstacles other than outcropping roots or jagged rocks, nothing that can’t be managed in the vertical position and without the use of hands. At some point we came across a man openly selling weed, a cashew farm, and even tried some of the cashew apples, which had a texture between a plum and nectarine, and a taste somewhere between an apple and prickly pear. The trail got progressively more technical, but as the ocean came into view over the top of the mountain, it became obvious that a very steep and rapid descent was imminent, and it did not disappoint, as attached ropes and vines served as the main defense against falls, any type of which would be painful, if not catastrophic. Going barefoot was perhaps not the best idea for this hike, but in some way, your feet have greater purchase when they can touch the object onto which they will land, even if they don’t have the protection that a shoe would provide. Some species of white monkey inhabits the trees on the last few tens of meters of the cross-island trek, which could be observed jumping from branch to branch, and dropping some kind of nut or empty shell husk to the ground, oftentimes with a proximity that seemed to belie intent.
And what a beach, Long Beach, pure white sand and a perfect view of the last rays of sun.
sunset on Long Beach
sunset on Long Beach
The sun going down with longtail boats in the foreground is a feature that I often saw on Thailand, and often took pictures of, and it is no less noteworthy tonight. The water is also a clear bluish-green, one of the nicest waters I have had the pleasure to swim in. But at nightfall it became clear that the taxi boats parked there were the only way back to the other side after dark, as the steep ascent and lack of shoes would make the return trip much more dangerous and much less plausible, so back to the island we went, in a boat that at times I wasn’t sure would make it because of the swells, and because the motor seemed underpowered, even for what was maybe only 5 or 6 people. But in half an hour or so, the young, energetic boatman with the purplish-pink watercraft put us safely where we wanted, tying a neat little bow on the first day of Koh Rong.