Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia
From my previous post regarding my negative experience with a host on the island, I tried asking around on the island to seek for a new host. However, most of them do not need any volunteer during the low season. Luckily for me, Joel was doing a volunteer on building work with B & Meg from The Chai Tent. They accepted me, I believed it was a nice gesture and an opportunity for me and Joel to work and stay together instead.
We stayed for 3 weeks on the island, mainly on M’Pai Bay. Fortunately, we were extremely lucky during the first week to have great weathers. We went to the beach during the day and night. When the night falls, the sky is filled with gazillions stars. I had never seen so many stars in my life, I love star-gazing because it brings me back to my childhood and I had a wish to star gaze with someone special. And guess what? It happened!
That was not all the magical experience, there were tonnes of bioluminescent planktons in the sea, just like fireflies but glows in blue in the water. Standing in the water with water level around our knees, we looked up to the starry sky and embraced each other. I was speechless. It was quiet and dark. The sound of the waves, the breeze touches our skins, the smell of the salt water and witnessing the falling stars – this is something money could not buy, this is my memory, our moment shared together. An experience with no photograph could be captured.
2 weeks of working at the site, we are off to another bay tomorrow for a night! Luckily Joel has workaway hosts on the island and I could learn about concrete work from him. So, I'm pretty much the only female working with concrete here and some of the Khmers been coming by to see me work since we're working on the exterior today. Joel is proud of me of course 😂
I have zero experience in building or construction since I was a hermit-nerd for half of my life.
Joel has been an amazing teacher to teach me about concrete. From mixing the sand and cement mix, concrete work with a trowel to shovel mastering. And of course, I feel tougher now! Well, just a little tiny bit perhaps.
Everything at M’Pai Bay is slightly more expensive compared to the mainland, however, you are still able to get a meal from 1.25USD min. The average price per meal would be 2-4USD. Dorm ranging from 4-5USD and private rooms from 10USD and above.
There’s 3 bays on the island – M’Pai Bay (top), Clearwater Bay (middle) and Saracen Bay (bottom).
We spent a day at Clearwater Bay, from the end of the beach of M’Pai Bay during our off day, we had to do a 30-40mins trekking through the woods. There’s only 1 hostel here that we known of/seen, hence it’s much more quiet but very similar to the beach at M’Pai Bay. That said, things are the most expensive here on this island. Oreo costs 1USD at M’Pai Bay, 3USD at Clearwater Bay and 1.50USD at Saracen Bay.
Be careful with these jellyfishes, especially after 2-3 days of rain, you would not want to be in the water. We did not know about them, we thought it’s just bites from small fishes initially, until one sunny day after 2-3 days of continuous rains, we had to get out of the water after 5 minutes because the stings were just too much. However, we could not see any fishes or anything that stings us in the water.
After the brief incident, we met a French traveler, which also is a diver, told us about the jellyfishes. We saw them with our own eyes on our off day to Clearwater Bay (photo above).
We tried fishing with a hook and fishing string with leftover steamed rice as bait, just like how the locals (including kids) did it. Thought we could fish something for dinner but we aren’t skilled enough for it yet, still fun though.
We paid for 5USD each to get on a supply boat that leaves at 8.30am to Saracen Bay. Just wanted to have a look at this touristy and more luxurious bay of the island before we left to the mainland. Despite the tourist crowd, the beach is much more well maintained, it’s cleaner and the sand is almost white. We stayed at a resort called Beach Island Resort with 23USD for a small bungalow. They have an open dorm here, which is quite interesting for me but there will be zero privacy, unless a mosquitoes net counts for ya.
They serve good food here too. The bathroom’s showers are open, so you might have to shower (naked or not) with another individual of same gender. I was not up for this and did not know about the shower before coming here, so I was lucky to shower without anyone sharing the bathroom with me at those times.
We're here to celebrate our first month together (not really but kinda). Spending more money here but our small bungalow is nice. We managed to book it for 23usd 🙂 the beach is cleaner here too. Saracen Bay is more popular with tourists, hence a lot more hostels/resorts here and of course, things are more expensive here too.
We spent quite a bit of money from our budget at Saracen bay to treat ourselves before we went off to Sihanoukville but it was pretty well-spent.
I would recommend anyone to come to Koh Rong Sanloem if you wish to have a less party-backackperish crowded island in Cambodia to visit, probably around April-May. This place is magical by its own. Just make sure you have enough toiletries, sunscreen and bugs spray (unless you don’t mind paying more) and most importantly,enough amount of cash (USD) before coming to the island because there’s no ATM machines on the island.