And so with a restless night’s sleep – the moving thoughts, images and emotions from our day learning about the genocide still in our mind – we awoke to a happier day. Albeit our last in Phnom Penh. A day filled with good food and good friends – old and new!
And it was with these and a good bottle of wine (our first of the trip) we closed the chapter on Phnom Penh and opened it on Koh Rong. We’re back at the coast – an indulgence maybe but it feels so right.
The island itself is beautiful and as yet not over run with tourists. A small village greets you when you get off the ferry and apart from some secluded high end villas tucked away in odd corners of the island, that is it. Rustic bungalows line the beach alongside hammocks and lounging chairs set against a backdrop of crystalline waters and coral fine sand.
And so with this as our playground we spent 3 awesome days drinking lots of cocktails and obviously the odd beer or two…
… Diving – it was great to be back in the water again after a couple of months. The diving is very similar to Thailand – we didn’t see anything new and the visibility wasn’t fantastic – but it was good to be under the waves.
… Being caught in the crossfire of Khmer New Year. A great experience. Khmer New Year is a festival welcoming the monsoon rains (and it worked… See below). It takes place across South East Asia – in Thailand it is known as Songkran – and results in buckets of water and tons of talc being thrown around… And plenty of booze consumed. Of course.
But this is all changing, the land is being – and has already been – bought up by outside investment. In the last 7 months prior to our arrival we learnt that most of the village had been built up from scattered bungalow resorts to a small strip and the first road is in the pipeline. This isn’t going to stop and the atmosphere is likely to go from rustic to ritzy!
If you can, go now. By next season the strip will have changed a lot and the island will be one step closer to a Thai copy. It will still be beautiful but it will have lost a bit more of its soul.