Kaoh Rong

Sihanoukville Travel Blog

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My trip to Kaoh Rong island was one of the most memorable till so far. As I came to Cambodia I was asked if I also wanted to join this trip that was suppose to be our ngo weekend. But basically my Khmer supervisor invited just everyone he knew, including family, friends and collegues.
We set out from Phnom Penh friday at 3pm in a minibus to Sihanoukville. I was never there before, and I like just looking out of the window and watch the landscape rolling by. When we arrived in Sihanoukville it was already dark and we quickly found a hotel and afterwards we went eating at a lovely seafood restaurant at the beach.

The next morning we were supposed to be at the harbour at 6am ('only a Cambodian could have organised this', joked my program coordinator from finland.) After riding back and forth for a while we finally found the 'harbour', which would say that there were boats, and more of my supervisors family that would travel with us also. The boat was a fishermans boat and didn't look to steady. It was not one that was designed with transporting passengers. I was glad that my program coordinator organised lifevests, cause they were not on the boat. She just had enough for us, but the Khmer party didn't bring any. On the way back I gave my lifevest to somebody else, as most Khmer cannot swim. There were some really old ladies with us, ofcourse having the time of their lives, but a really big wave at the wrong time could have resulted in a drama.
But I guess that counts for all Cambodians traveling.
Apart from the safety issues I really had a very good time. The Khmer being very Khmer, I really enjoyed the trip although I couldn't hear anything because the engine was too loud. It was a good three hours to the part of Kaoh Rong that we were heading to. I had a beep in my ear for the rest of the day. We arrived at Kaoh Rong in a small village, surrounded by a blue sea and palm trees. It was paradise, but then without the touristbusses and the backpackers smoking ganja in their hammocks. We went to this village because my supervisor had been here before and had bought an undeveloped plot of beach here. I don't know how they arranged it, but we could stay at the house of the village head, that is a group of thirty Khmer and foreigners! So we arrived and immediately a group of women started cooking for us.
The Khmer women had to help with the cooking, but the foreign women (two Dutch, two Finnish) were not allowed. I tried in vain, but we were supposed to sit with the men and drink beer and whiskey (we brought a few bottles Johnny Walker red label). After an hour or so some of the men were drunk, which was really funny. And then we had lunch. Although I'm allergic to most seafood and thus do not like the ones I can eat, this was such a special meal. They brought in loads of shrimps, big shrimps, crab and all kinds of shells, and also fish, rice and green mango salad. It was great! The table was loaded and everyone was happy and in high spirits. After lunch the Khmer women did the dishes, while the men rested. And so we also took a nap. For some way the Khmer found it hilarious that I sleep om my stumach.
After lunch we went on the boat again to go swimming and fishing. Some of the Khmer went swimming with our lifevests on, but most women stayed on the boat. I took the plunge, but swimming with your clothes on stays a bit weird.

Dinner was the same ritual again, but now we also had two ducks for dinner. I happened to see the ducks while they were still alive, so I felt really sorry for the ducks, but they were nice. We all slept in the big open living room and on the terrace. Except the brother of my supervisor and his new wife, they got a room for theirselves. But this was then also practically their honeymoon :). I slept with my dutch friend and two of the khmer girls from the office on one bamboo mat under a musquito net. I am not very good in sleeping on a bamboo mat, I couldn't really find a position that was nice without poking my neighbours in the stumach.
. But we slept next to the balcony, so when it started raining at 4am we had to move our mat and musquito net more inside. The men that slept on the terrace were completely wet.

The next day we had breakfast and went on the boat again to Sihanoukville. But the wind was too heavy so we went to another village on the island to wait for the wind to lay down. So again thirty people walked through the house of the village head here, and naturally, every woman living here started cooking us a delicious meal. I'm still amazed by the hospitality. After lunch we headed back to Sihanoukville and from there to Phnom Penh.

The trip was really great, and I was so relaxed because there was absolutely nothing to do and no electricity. It was so much fun to spend a weekend with so many Khmer and to have a real taste of Cambodia.
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