I remember I had stayed in a bungalow up on the hill, just past the Lion roundabout where you followed a gravel track to the beach. The place has changed beyond recognition and the beach is much cleaner. However the main Serendipity strip I wouldn't want to hang around too long. The scene is very much backpackers and old men; the beach itself is dominated by government mandated promenade-front bars, all the same, all with the same furniture.
A night later and we headed to Koh Rong, a largish island off the coast. As our last trip was enhanced (or as Chi would say - 'ruined') by a very interesting boat trip to Battambang, I hoped this one might be better. A new half-million dollar catamaran would be our vessel cutting journey time from 2 hours to 30 minutes. As we sat aboard with the engine turning over I was still optimistic. As the Cambodian engineers disappeared into the engine compartment, half an hour went by and travelers started hopping off to drink beer at the jetty-side bar, my faith wavered. An hour later, chugging along the coast in a distinctly non-Koh-Rong direction, a Russian regular delivered the hilarious truth...they're taking us to the slow boat. Once deposited right back to square one and the best sunbathing spots had been bagged we were off again, this time to our destination.
I had no idea where Paradise Bungalows was, but we would be able to walk there along the path, which didn't exist, but at the least the tide was out aiding the dragging of unjustifiably heavy luggage through sand for 800 meters. Never presume anything travelling in this part of the world: hopefully you'd hop on the boat, be disembarked, checked in and ready for a swim before sunset cocktails - realistically, prepare for the fact that despite your destination being maddeningly close, you could end up there after dark and feeling like you've just been long hauling it across a continent.
|Paradise Bungalows, Koh Rong|
|Long Beach, Koh Rong|
A tuk-tuk down to Otres just 3 kms from town and an utterly amazing, largely deserted beach, with very limited accommodation. We rented a terraced garden shed and shared a 'bathroom' with the rest of the resort that bilged yellow water from the well out of its taps. Safe to say I let the hygine go a little those three days, even though it was Christmas, and maintained a decent alcoholic haze the whole time. One night our whole row of bungalows lay wide awake blinking at the ceiling at 3am listening to a drunken couple having a domestic in the row behind.
|The garden shed|
|The Mango Tree, Kampot|
Phnom Penh is still a good 5 hour trip from Saigon by bus/car, or a (relatively) expensive 40 minute flight. Car hire is reasonable (e.g $50 for a private car with driver Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, 4 hours).