Next we headed to Sihanoukville to catch the ferry out to an island, Koh Rong Samloem. I had picked this island because I had read about decent off the beach snorkeling and picked the village of M’Pay Bay, because it is a small fishing village.
|This was the view out the window of our room on the pier. A great location except if you have the tendency to get seasick. The constant swaying from the guesthouse and snorkeling on the incoming tide got to me a little bit.|
|The view from our window in the opposite direction.|
|The first morning I walked outside and these men were netting fish right outside our door. They were so excited by how many they caught, I can still hear the one mans giddy laugh.|
|Kids would also fish off the pier or from small Styrofoam rafts. Tee was on the lookout for some fresh fish to buy for dinner.|
|There were several cute swings set up around the island.|
|When walking on the beach you have to keep an eye out for these pincushion urchins. It was still alive.|
|Tee spent one afternoon grooming out favorite snorkeling spot on Long Beach, piling up all the trash and debris. This what is done at the larger beaches in Sihanoukville and Koh Rong.|
|Tee had a guitar years ago and when he picked this one up and started strumming he remembered how much he loves to play.|
|Our room was in the white building on the pier.|
Looks beautiful, right? Oh how a photographers eye can be so selective. When we arrived we were disturbed to see how much rubbish was littering the beaches, yet we stayed for 4 days because we really wanted to give the place a proper chance. We felt increasingly guilty the longer we stayed as we saw that it didn’t seem like a sustainable place to be visiting as all supplies were ferried over from the mainland including drinking water. This village is growing in popularity, two new guesthouses were finished this past fall and a couple more were under construction, and has no way to get rid of waste, either trash (besides burning) or sewage. I am scared for what the future holds for this friendly fishing village and I doubt we will ever return to see for ourselves.
Our favorite activity: Though we have both snorkeled in more impressive places, like the Big Island or Australia, we had fun exploring the ocean. We saw lots of neat fish some in glowing neon colors that I thought only existed in Vegas. I went out to an area where ocean was 15+ feet deep and the coral grew up, almost to the surface of the bay, like giant stalagmites. Snorkeling was the highlight of our stay and it makes me want to try scuba diving even more.
Our best culinary experience: Tee came in one afternoon and said we could buy a kilo of squid for $5 from the fishermen on the pier and have a local family cook it for us. Without thinking too much about how much a kilo was I said something to the affect of “sounds great” and went back to my book. Only later, as we were served a huge bowl of squid, did I realize what a kilo of squid looks like. We ate squid and only squid for dinner that night.
|Ok, so it wasn’t this tiger fish.|
A weird fish experience: There were these small fish I called tiger fish because they had black stripes down their sides and they kept biting me. I have a pencil eraser sized mole on my back and one of the tiger fish came up and bite a small piece of it off!
Our “duh” moment: We were slow learners in the high tide department. We decided to go kayaking one morning and set out into a rougher than normal ocean to try some new snorkeling spots on nearby Koh Gon. After awhile we were exhausted, a bit scared as I swear I have surfed on waves smaller than what we were paddling through, and worried about the waves forcing us into some rocks along the shore so we turned and headed back to our normal snorkeling spot. That afternoon we looked out and the ocean was like glass, there was no wind, no chop and the tide was no longer coming in. Duh, this was the same as every other day. What were we thinking? Unfortunately for Tee this was his introduction to kayaking and I won’t be surprised if he never wants to go with me again.
Maybe we aren’t beach people? Maybe we are beach snobs and only like clean beaches? Maybe we should stick to the mainland? Either way our first, and possibly only, Cambodian beach experience left us more agitated than relaxed.
Next stop: Kampot