Living Life on Island Time

In order to get our PADI open water diver certs, we traveled to Koh Rong Samloem, an island off the coast of Cambodia. Fun fact! The islands off of the Cambodian coast were the place of the last battle of Vietnam War. We had 3 nights included in The Dive Shop’s dormitory as part of our course, but we decided to spend another 2 nights after the course in a bungalow, relaxing on the beach. Most of the first 4 days were taken up by the PADI course, so we didn’t do much besides dive, recover, and eat. One of the things I enjoyed about the island is that we only had power for a few hours a day while they ran their generator (usually about 5-11 pm), we didn’t have cell phone service, and there was no internet connection on our side of the island. If you went across the island (about a 30 minute hike), there were some more resorts and supposedly internet available, but we never made the trek. The bonus of the power only being on until about 11 pm was that pretty much everyone was in bed by about that time, so even the nights in the dorm were pretty quiet.

There were 4 “resorts” on our side of the island. The dive shop we did our course with was attached to the Happa Garden resort which has some small bungalows, and this is where we stayed for our last 2 nights. Off to one side of the bay was Robinson Resort, which had some bungalows, tents, and almost yurt-like accommodations (much lighter than any yurt I’ve seen, but the structure was similar). On the other side of Happa was Sleepy Trees and Huba Huba. Both of these places had a variety of accomadation, and Sleepy Trees also had some of the tents that get suspended from a few trees that you could rent for a night. Definitely the budget way to do a beach vacation ($29/night)! These 4 resorts were also the only 4 choices for food, and we tried them all. Since there was no cell service or internet available, we left our phones off for most of the week, so we didn’t get many pictures of our food.

One of our favorite meals was at Sleepy Trees though, where they vary the menu every night and just serve up one big course family style. We went on barbeque night and were offered a feast of grilled fish, squid, pork, chicken, and beef (all of which was delicious), a potato au gratin, a cauliflower and potato au gratin, and a salad. There would have been a ton of leftovers, except that there were 3 large German boys at our table that cleaned up most of the food on our table and then moved to other table to finish that off too. It was fun to sit with a large group of people and get to know them a little and share a great meal.

The only downside to the food on the island was that there was very little Khmer food, as most of the resorts served western food for the majority of their dishes, although we stuck mostly to BBQ for dinners.

On the night of our last day diving, there was a full moon party in the jungle, so we decided to check it out. We asked our diving instructor and he said they were a lot of fun, but that people normally didn’t go until around midnight. We put on our bigboy/girl pants, tried to take a nap, and went for a trek into the jungle way past our normal bedtime (11:30 pm). This party was on top of the hill behind our resort and it was definitely a trek to get there, it took us about 25 minutes. We arrived and we were a little disappointed in the number of people there, but not by the people watching. It was a jungle dance party/rave and we had a drink and hung out for probably 45 minutes before making our way back down through the jungle to bed. Unfortunately the water wasn’t working when we got back, so we couldn’t rinse off all the sweat from hiking through the jungle at 1 in the morning… I was also really feeling the after effects of the jellyfish sting, and I was pretty achy and feeling sick, so unfortunately I made Cara come home earlier than she probably wanted to. When I woke up the next morning the music was still going until almost 8 am. (Cara’s note: I’m not sure if I’ve ever been to a true ‘rave’ before, but this was just about 70 white people- way less than we thought there would be- trying to dance to bad techno music in the middle of the Cambodian jungle. In my opinion, there were not enough drugs, alcohol or glow sticks present to make this a fantastic party. We hung out for about an hour and after one drink, we hiked back down to our bungalow. If people were inebriated, I have no idea how they made it down this trail. Thankfully, the full moon made for nicer night hike!)

The next day we had intended on walking to the other side of the island, but instead we were lazy all day. I really still didn’t feel good until the early evening, and Cara loves the beach so it wasn’t hard to get her to stay there all day. We ate some food and played some games and just relaxed. I was really glad to not be back in the water after 3 straight days of spending hours in it. (Cara’s note: I swam all day!)

Overall our visit to Koh Rong Samloem was mostly about diving, but we did get some good food in too, and spent some time enjoying the beach, which was nice. I wouldn’t recommend visiting the island if you want a normal resort experience since there aren’t a ton of amenities, but if you’re traveling through Southeast Asia and want to take a little break and enjoy some quiet time, it was a great place to spend a few days.