We arrived on Koh Rong Sanloem on the 16th of January and would be spending a week here to chill out and relax after being on the road now for just under 3 months. The first few nights were unlikely to be that relaxing though as we had opted to stay at a hostel called Mad Monkey. This is a chain of hostels and as the name suggests has quite the reputation for being a pretty lively affair. We had been recommended to stay here by a lot of people, but also knew we wanted time to relax away from here hence only staying for two nights. The journey to the hostel from Kampot involved a 4-hour minibus ride from Kampot to Sihanoukville, followed by an hour-long speed ferry to Koh Rong Sanloem. Finally, when we arrived at the main dock in Sanloem we then had to get a small private boat around the bay to the isolated bay where the Mad Monkey hostel is situated. The hostel itself was very nice with its own beach, bar and restaurant areas, plus the bamboo dorm room situated just off the beach which you stayed in at night. There was however nothing else in the bay other than the Mad Monkey Hostel.
The first afternoon we spent some time chilling out before making our way to the happy hour bar which was situated at the end of a long dock in the bay itself. Now you could either get to here by walking from the main bar area and down the long dock or by swimming from the main beach. We decided to take the swimming route, although you could practically walk most of the way if you wanted due to the shallowness of the water. Once we arrived at the end of the pier after the swim the party was already in full flow with a large group of people already here chilling out and enjoying themselves. The bar system worked on a tab basis so there was no need to carry cash which is handy but also pretty much ensures you spend far more than you want too by the end of your stay. We stayed and partied on the pier for the 3 hours the bar is open (3 till 6 pm). Ollie even taught me how to Gainer, which is basically running forward off the dock and then doing a backflip, Fred, on the other hand, was less successful. Unfortunately, there was one point in the afternoon when no one wanted to jump in as there appeared to have been an oil leak from one of the nearby boats and this washed underneath the pier itself preventing people from diving into the water. Once happy hour on the pier had ended we then went back to the main bar on the island to carry on the party for the rest of the night. Late on in the evening, the heavens decided to open and absolutely lashed it down. It was at this point Ollie opted to have a workout out at the outdoor island gym, I stumbled across him and became his motivational coach in the pouring rain. I also had to shout back to Con and Fred who were watching us from the cover of the bar, “we only have 2 more sets”. Once the rain had cleared and Ollie had finished his spontaneous workout, he Fred and I made our way into the sea at around 11.30 pm. We also decided it would be a good idea if we did this naked! Now the reason for heading into the sea at this hour wasn’t for some male bonding time but because the island itself is surrounded by bioluminescent plankton which glows bright blue when you move through the water. As we made our way further out into the sea this amazing glow begun to appear. The 3 of us were captivated by this for a good half an hour and spent our time swishing our hands and feet back and forth watching the water light up in a spectacular blue glow. It really is one of the most amazing spectacles of nature I have ever witnessed. Unfortunately for the people back on the beach, they saw another spectacle of nature when I had to return to my dorm naked due to losing more shorts in the sea! I’d say it was worth it though.
The following day we chilled out on the hammocks in the sea and just took it easy having gone hard the night before living up to the Mad Monkey name. That evening the boys stayed out for a few drinks again, but I choose to have an early night although it was rather a lost cause. The music from the bar was loud and the dorm room was right on the main path so countless people came past making lots of noise. That’s the problem with staying at a party hostel, you must party otherwise you have a pretty rubbish stay. Overall our time at Mad Monkey was good but I think we were all glad to only be staying there a couple of nights due to the whole atmosphere of the place. As I said by this point in the trip we were all a bit burnt out and just wanted some time to relax.
A move around the bay away from Mad Monkey to the main bay of Koh Rong Sanloem, Saracen bay provided exactly that. We walked down the beach a little way after being dropped off at the dock and found a place to stay for the night with the intention of finding a more permanent base the following day. That afternoon we all done nothing, either napping the time away or chilling on the beach it was perfect and if I’m honest this set the tone for our time on this part of the island. The following day (now the 19th of Jan) Fred and I took a walk further down the beach and found a nice little place to stay for the rest of our time on the island. We moved here and spent the next 4 days relaxing it was bliss. Initially, we had planned to go to Koh Rong, a sperate island from Koh Rong Sanloem, but I decided I was fed up of moving around every few days so elected to stay on the one island for the whole time to fully recharge. Fred and Con said they also felt the same way, however, Ollie decided he wanted to go and look at Koh Rong so stayed there for two nights (21st and 22nd of Jan).
So, in total (for Con Fred and I anyway) we spent 5 nights staying in Saracen bay of Koh Rong Sanloem, the first night at our initial accommodation and the remaining 4 at the Beach Tree resort. As I said we really didn’t get up to too much other than taking it easy. One night we went to a beach called lazy beach which was a 20-minute walk through the jungle to the other side of the island. The beach is supposedly one of the top 21 beaches in the world and I can see why. It is an unspoilt stretch of coastline with white and is probably the best beach I’ve ever set foot on. Ollie was meant to join us here as we set off a bit before him but somehow, he made it to another beach called sunset beach. However, there wasn’t much of a sunset due to the cloud coverage, but it still made for some great photos. Another time we also made the longer and more difficult trek to sunset beach but was less impressed with this beach and didn’t spend much time here due to not wanting to make the walk back in the dark due to the difficulty of the terrain in places. We enjoyed Lazy beach so much that on our final day on the island, Fred Con and I spent most of the day chilled out here. Fred and I even done a little bit of snorkelling to compensate for our snorkelling and fishing trip being cancelled two days in a row due to bad weather in the mornings (basically a few nights it hammered it down and in the morning the sea was a little rough and one day still raining in the morning). The snorkelling, however, wasn’t amazing as the visibility was rather poor. I did still see some quirky fish and it has certainly got me excited for the Thai islands and the Philippines.
Every night we would make our way to the hostel bar and chill there for a drink or two before retiring normally quite early to bed. One night however they put on a full moon party and had fire dancers who were, in fact, the normal bar staff, but they were very good. We spent the evening watching the entertainment provided (until the heavens opened again and sent everyone to bed).
Overall our time on the island was exactly what I need to recharge and relax doing nothing. The setting was so idyllic and one of the most chilled out beautiful islands I’ve been on. I spend most of my days reading my kindle and relaxing in the sun. There were also the cutest family of puppies owned by the hostel who would often come to sleep under the chair you would be sitting in. Now often I’m not the biggest fan of dogs but I will make an exception for these dogs. Except for the time Fred and I tried to play football on the beach and the dogs kept stealing the ball, so we had to play frisbee instead.
Island life was almost perfect, except for the final night there. Con Fred and I decided to eat at the fancy restaurant next door to treat ourselves to a final supper as such. I ordered the monster burger and it was delicious. However, at roughly midnight I was having doubts, initially let’s just say I had some toilet troubles, before waking up again at around 5 am knowing I needed to be sick. Now at home being sick isn’t so bad you just run to the toilet. I, however, was in an 8-bed bamboo dorm on the top bunk. The toilet was attached to the dorm so I would wake everyone up, plus we were in the middle of a power cut so there would be no light. I, therefore, made the decision to make my way to the bar area by the sea to get some air. This had little effect and within minutes I was on my hands and knees throwing up on the beach. I must admit probably the nicest places I’ve ever been sick. Such a sour way to end such a beautiful week, with food poisoning! I also knew I had to navigate an 18-hour journey with a dodgy tummy and very few toilet stops. I’ll let you know how this went in the next blog. Luckily not as bad as you may be thinking.