After the nice days in Kep, I went to the island Koh Rong Samloem by bus and ferry. Koh Rong Samloem is a small island and officially owned by the Cambodian military. Luckily, the island is also open for tourists. Usually people describe the island as how the islands in Thailand looked like 20 years ago. Everything is super relaxed and you won't find any streets, supermarkets, ATM or any Internet connection. Everything runs on island time and personally I really enjoyed this and had a very relaxed time on the island.
A little detour to the hostel
I had already booked my hostel in advance and knew that is was supposed to be in the M'Pay Bay. This is also where the only village of the island is located. Beforehand I had read on the hostel website that the ferry will stop in the bay. Therefore, I didn't really have any questions booking the ferry ticket. After the ferry stopped at the bigger island Koh Rong, it went towards Koh Rong Samloem. When the ferry docked at the pier everyone that was left on the ferry went off. Therefore, I did the same. After getting off the ferry I was trying to figure out where I was. I asked a couple people about the best way to get to the M'Pay bay. They actually said that I should ask the guys from the ferry. So, I went back to the ferry and asked them. They told me then that the bay is on the other side of the island and I can only get there by boat. They pointed to another pier and said I should ask the people over there. So, I took my backpack and went across the beach to the other pier. On my way there, I stopped at a diving shop to ask again for the best way. They confirmed that the only way is by boat. The owner then offered me a ride with his own boat. He lived in that bay as well and had to go there anyways. I only had to wait until he closes his shop. Of course, I accepted his offer. Now, that I finally figured out how to get to the hostel, I had a couple hours on this side of the island before we would leave. Eventually, we made our way to the M'Pay bay and I had a private boat ride during the sunset. When I arrived at the hostel, they were a bit confused why the ferry hadn't stopped at the bay. But in the end everything worked out as it usually does. You just have to be patient.
Crossing the island by foot
You rarely get bored on Koh Rong Samloem. During the day you can go for a swim, snorkel, explore the island or just relax in the hammock. One of the days we crossed the island by foot. When I first arrived I was told it is not possible, but in fact it is. But, you will get your feet wet and it is not really possible with a big backpack. First we went by the beach to look for the first track. Once we found the track, we had to follow it all the way to the military base. We found the way without any difficulties and reached the base. The base didn't really look like a military base. It reminded me more of a farm. When we got there no one was there, so we walked through the base right to the water. Down at the water, we had a look to were we needed to go next. We had to reach another bay by walking through the water. Mostly the water was only waist deep, but a couple times we actually had to swim. Once we reached the bay, I checked if my Dryback is really waterproof and luckily it was. After a short break, we went on the last track for the day. This one was a bit more difficult to find. We didn't find it on the first try, but on the second try we found the right track and arrived on the other side of the island. For the way back we took the daily supply boat. It comes everyday from the mainland and brings everything what the people on the island need. The boat stops in several bays.
And then another highlight...
Another highlight on the island is the bioluminescent (glowing) plankton. If you go for a swim at night time, you can see a yellow-greenish glow around your whole body. The more dark the environment, the better. It is really an amazing feeling and just seems that with every movement there are thousand of sparkles in the water. In addition to that, you usually have an amazing sky with stars and if you get lucky you can see some shooting stars flying by. The was definitely one of the highlights of my whole trip so far and it was such a great experience that I did it 2 nights in a row.
After spending a couple days in paradise, I went back to mainland and went to Siem Reap to explore the old temples.
If you are interested in learning more about Koh Rong Samloem and its bigger neighbor Koh Rong, go check out kohrong.guide. They provide you with lots of informations about the island and have the mission to help keep the islands clean and support the local communities.