Posts Tagged With: Koh Kong

Koh Rong, Cambodia’s Survivor Island

Cambodia’s islands are a place of mystery. In comparison to the Thai islands, they’re pretty much distant specks on the map. As I’ve said before, Cambodia is most famous for Angkor Wat and the Killing Fields. But once you’ve visited the Cambodian islands, it’s tough to stay away.

The most popular port for getting to most of the islands is the city of Sihanoukville, or “Kampong Som” in Khmer. If you look at the map below, you’ll see that Cambodia has two tiny peninsulas that jut out along the coast.  The left peninsula consists of Koh Kong and Botum Sakor National Park. The right peninsula has Sihanoukville and Ream National Park. This past January, we took a long weekend and headed down to the coast for a dip in the Gulf of Thailand.

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The town of Sihanoukville isn’t much in itself; the layout is rather disjointed and scattered across a series of hills. The beauty of the area reveals itself when you step onto the sprawling white sand beaches.

We arrived at the port in the morning, and were planning on catching a boat out to Koh Rong at around noon.

In the meantime, I snapped a photo of the ephemeral graffiti scene that seems to be making its way across Cambodia…

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Our destination was the island of Koh Rong. Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 6.44.28 PM

The journey to Koh Rong used to take a minimum of two hours. As you’d imagine, this greatly dissuaded us from visiting; there’s nothing worse than spending two hours leap-frogging over waves with an outboard motor under the penetrating sunshine.

Luckily, Koh Rong has a speedboat business now that cuts the trip down to forty-five minutes.

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Packed full of Khmer and foreigners alike, we held onto our lifejackets and started our journey.

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Now, a bit about the title of this post. To those who read local news, I like to think that Koh Rong is known as “Cambodia’s Survivor Island”. In 2013, the French version of Survivor, titled “Koh Lanta”, was filmed on Koh Rong. (Koh Lanta is actually an island in Thailand, but it wasn’t filmed there. Perhaps the producers thought that Koh Lanta sounded more romantic than Koh Rong?)

Here’s where it gets eerie. First, one of the contestants died from a heart attack during the filming of the show. Then, the television show’s resident doctor was found dead ten days later, having committed suicide in his bungalow. He left a note expressing his guilt over the heart attack of the contestant days prior. (To read more, click here.)

As if that’s not enough, the American television show Survivor is currently being filmed on the island as we speak. No joke. As stated in The Cambodia Daily, filming began this spring and is expected to conclude in July.

But to be clear, Koh Rong is not as remote as primetime television may lead you to believe.

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It is one of the more touristy islands of Cambodia. From the snorkeling and dive companies to new restaurants that pop up daily with fried rice and banana pancakes, some say that Koh Rong is a backpacker’s paradise.

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We did expect it to be full of tourists, but I didn’t quite anticipate how crowded the little stretch of beach would be. Since there’s no roads on Koh Rong, all the shops and bungalows open right onto the beach. This leads for a continual stream of bikini-clad tourists and pounding bass long into the night.

They’ve even got a pharmacy for tourists right at the pier once you get off the boat. Need some stitches? They’ve got you covered. What about typhoid? Ear cleaning? Or how about just some basic “cleaning stuff”? And while you’re at it, why not a blood test?

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We didn’t want to stay on this part of the island. Luckily, we didn’t have to.

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I booked our time at Pura Vita resort, a tiny series of bungalows on a secluded stretch of the island. Pura Vita means “pure life” in Italian, and is well-reviewed for being a clean and comfortable place far away from the hustle and decadence of the main part of the island. We were picked up by our hotel and jetted off across the bay and around the corner, to a truly quiet stretch of the island.

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And it was perfect.

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There was no one here except for some morning joggers, the other guests at our hotel, and our lovely host, Vanny. In her mid fifties, Vanny is a Cambodian woman who fled the country during the Khmer Rouge and grew up in Canada with her family. She ran a restaurant for most of her life, but had a dream to return to where she was born. So, with her kids enrolled in college, she bought a patch of land on the island, and started pursuing her dream. If you ever visit Koh Rong, definitely stay at Pura Vita and have a cup of coffee with Vanny. She’s great.

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We spent our days watching the waves, swimming, and walking along the gorgeous 7 kilometer long beach.

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And, sometimes, I did feel like we were on the set of Survivor. 13

As idyllic as it was, we were curious about that rag-tag stretch of restaurants by the pier. So, we spent one afternoon walking from our stretch of beach across the island over to the main area.

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Even though it got a bit more touristy, it was still equally as beautiful.

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As we settled into lunch, we ordered our meals and some smoothies to quench our thirst. Little did we know that you got “One free beer with every meal.” (You can actually see the chalkboard advertisement behind my sister in the above photo.) It was definitely one of those “Only in Southeast Asia…” moments.

And of course, a trip to an island isn’t complete without some swimming.

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The water was perfect. The sand was soft. The sun was warm. The air was clean. The palms were swaying. And we were in love.

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Will I go back to Koh Rong? Absolutely. But not to stay at the main port, nor as a contestant on a reality television show. I think I like the “pura vita” just fine. 

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Road Tripping The Cambodian Coast

It was the spring break that wasn’t.

 

Moving abroad, you shed some of the terminology that you used so mindlessly back home.
For us Americans, college became university.
America became The States.
Vacation became holiday.
Bubbler became water fountain. (For me, at least.)
First floor became ground floor.
And, obviously, soccer became football.

Anyways, calling it spring break means nothing when you don’t teach at an American school. In Cambodia, the second week of April celebrates Khmer New Year, which is when we have our week-long break. Khmer New Year coincides with Songkran in Laos and Thailand, Thingyan New Year in Burma, as well as Sinhalese New Year in Sri Lanka. Clearly, calling it anything BUT a “New Year’s break” would get you strange looks in most of Southeast Asia.

I was lucky enough to have my parents visiting, and we took a gorgeous road trip along the Cambodian coast. We spent a few days exploring the wild, pristine landscape of our country before heading into Thailand and visiting Koh Kood.

Also important to note, today marks a significant change in the format of Angkor’s Away (AlohaKuwait for you veteran readers). Sean and I purchased a GoPro. Instead of snapping hundreds of photos, we are now shooting high-quality video in 1080p.

And now you will come to be familiar with one of Sean’s favorite hobbies: video-making. Here is our first GoPro compilation from our trip along the Cambodian Coast. We drove down through Bokor National Park to a teeny tiny island near Koh Sdach, which is the home of the best lodging in Cambodia: Nomad’s Land. It is in an absolutely stunning–and absolutely isolated—archipelago between Sihanoukville and Koh Kong. It is the most beautiful place in Cambodia that I have seen yet.

Then we hopped over to Koh Kong for a lovely paddle down the river, dined on fresh shrimp, and frolicked on the beach as the sun set. Take a look:

I recommend watching it on the highest resolution possible; the snorkeling footage is fantastic.

Beautiful, isn’t it? After our few days in Cambodia, we crossed the border to Thailand. But that’s another video. See you soon!

Categories: Cambodia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cambodia’s Hidden Corner

When most people hear “Cambodia”, this is what comes to mind:

1. The Khmer Rouge

2. Laura Croft

3. Angkor Wat

4. Nobody really gets past #3… but if you did, “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. (Even though that was in Thailand).

5. Backpackers

6. Asian Women

7. The Mekong River

8. Not Thailand.

9. The French

10. Sihanoukville 

A valid list, but definitely not accurate. Not in the purest sense of Cambodia. When most people book their tour du monde, their Cambodian stop over generally involves the Killing Fields, Angkor Wat, and some form of Khmer curry.

Hopefully you’ve gained a greater sense of Cambodian geography and culture through the past seven months here at alohakuwait. I’m here today to expand your knowledge a step further. It’s high time I paid homage to that great road trip—from Phnom Penh to the Thai border. Most people speed through on an afternoon bus, in transition from Bangkok to Phnom Penh. They see the stretch from Koh Kong to the Mekong river as a boring, bumpy ride that stands in the way of their Southeast Asian experience.

Well, Cambodia’s got a lot of secrets in her hidden Southwestern passage…

But, since I came from a family of pig farmers, let’s be honest with ourselves.

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The pigs. Stick ’em in barrels, stack ’em on trucks, slide ’em in trailors. There is no modest way to transport pigs anywhere in the world. Any country that tells you otherwise is lying to you.

As you wind your way along highway 4, the road begins to climb through heavily forested hills. The slopes become steeper, and the homes become sparser. It feels as if you have left the populated world behind. Just as you are ready to pull over to marvel at the beauty of it all, a turn off is provided for you.

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And what a turn off it is. I had driven past this specific stopping point numerous times on the way to the beach, and never noticed the troupe of monkeys that live in this stunning valley. Man, if you never pulled over, you would never SEE the stunning valley! There are myriad Buddhist shrines, and the monkeys are not seen as pests but rather positive additions to mother earth. Look at this killer playground they’ve got!

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Nothing says road trip like sipping on a cold soda and watching some monkeys.

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Or were the monkeys watching us? I wonder what they wrote about me in their blog…

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Like I said, this turn off was really pretty awesome. There were monks, chanting, shrines, monkeys, rituals, and of course, tubes of Pringles and fresh-cut pineapple for sale. What more could you want?

By the time we rolled onto the coast,  it was time for lunch. (Isn’t it always?)IMG_1939

So where else do you go but the Crab Chack. Home of the tastiest crab in Koh Kong.

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And while you wait for said crab, you can relax on their swing with your sister, dipping your toes in the water, sipping on a well-deserved Anchor or two. Paradise.

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I have previously blogged about the Rainbow Lodge in Koh Kong, but I have found yet another place of passion. Welcome to Thmorda Garden Riverside Resort. You can lounge on the shore of the river, and kayak in the mangroves all afternoon. The best part? You’ve got this entire place all to yourself.

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And their patio is fantastic.

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Morning in Koh Kong: Such a kaleidoscope of colors. Why rush through on the way to something better? You can’t find a superlative to this.

We did spend a few days in the luxury of Koh Kong and Southwestern Cambodia, and then we moseyed on to Thailand. On the road, my dad (who was visiting with my sister!!!) snapped a photo of something I have so long overlooked: the spirit houses. You see them everywhere, but I hadn’t really though twice about them until my dad brought it up.

IMG_1953Spirit houses are common in Southeast Asia, and are placed in a particular spot of your home, business, or natural area (often at the base of trees). They are a place for the spirits to be appeased—or to reside—depending on who you talk to. It is believed that so long as you keep the spirits happy, you will live a prosperous life. Sometimes spirits is synonymous with ghosts. I recently had a seventeen year old student tell me he was afraid of ghosts. I had to ask around to determine that he was talking about the spirits, which are very prevalent in Thai and Cambodian culture.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it: Take a road trip. Explore your home. Find something new. Stop at a place you’ve never stopped at before. Take a picture of something you’ve seen a million times. Maybe you’ll find monkeys. Maybe you’ll find spirits. Maybe you’ll find love.

Categories: Cambodia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top Ten Travel Highlights of 2013

Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s 2014 already. Since we’ve moved abroad, Sean and I have rang in the new year in Jordan, Egypt, and now Cambodia. As amazing as it is to keep looking forward to new adventures, it is equally important to reflect on all we’ve experienced. 2013 was pretty awesome. We moved from Kuwait to Cambodia. We celebrated our second year of marriage. Sean had knee surgery. I had wrist surgery. Sean tried pufferfish. I started eating chicken again. We watched Breaking Bad. But I digress.

Anyways, here are our travel highlights of 2013. There’s not really any particular order; it was near impossible to prioritize such perfect memories…  I hope you enjoy!

 2013 Travel Highlights

10. Playing disc golf with my family over the summer (Wisconsin)547901_4009921418603_1670924733_n

 

9. My last vegetarian thali at Banana Leaf (Kuwait)img_2404

 

8. Climbing Kep Mountain (Cambodia)10

 

7. Learning to speak Khmer (Cambodia)1185019_10201246178628688_1713916646_n

 

6. Eating giant prawns on the Koh Kong coast (Cambodia)img_6725

 

5. Becoming addicted to shiro and injera (Ethiopia)img_4913

 

4. Smoking shisha with my mother and the head of the Ministry of Communication (Kuwait)img_4726_2

 

3. Hiking five nights on The Beaten Path trail (Montana)15

 

2. Petting baboons in the Simien Mountains (Ethiopia)img_5656

 

1. Standing under the raging waterfall of Tad Yeang—Can you spot me? (Laos)img_7795-version-2

 

 

 

Categories: America, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Laos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Ingredients For A Mind-Blowing Hike

There are two kinds of people in the world. Camping people and non-camping people. I swear. Think about it. Are you a “camping person”? Is your best friend a “camping person”? I have met people who would rather get a speeding ticket than spend an evening in a tent. And non-camping people, well, they talk about camping like it is sent straight from the realm of satan to punish humankind. You never hear a non-camping person say, “It’s not that bad, but I prefer hotels. But I could go either way, really.”

What do hear is, “Last time I went camping, man, I was swept away in a monsoon, broke my iPhone, and sprained a muscle in my back. Never again.”

Or, “Oh, God! Camping? You all are crazy. Camping is the worst. Like, really. I feel bad for you that you subject yourself to bug bites, sunburn, and no respite from the elements. Have fun.”

Or, “Have you seen Deliverance? No thanks.”

They view “camping people” as mentally-unstable fools, searching for a Shangri-La they will never find.

Or, whacky NPR-listeners, hammock-swingers, plaid-wearers, pack-out-your-own-poo-in-a-bio-degradable-bag campers.

But maybe I’m wrong. But I like to think of the division this way—it’s mildly amusing to me. For a more complete list of the “types of campers”, click here.

You’re probably wondering, “Kim, what does this have to do with Cambodia?” If you remember the end of my last post, I promised you the secret to a mind-blowing hike. You see, as I am of the “I sincerely enjoy camping” type, I connect camping and hiking with the similar traits.

So, if you love camping, and equally love hiking, you are in for a vicarious treat.

If you hate camping and hiking, prepare yourself to enter the world of Alfred Hitchcock and his many horrors.

I’m not going to lie, this hike was brutal. Brutal in a way I have never experienced before. Normally, people classify a difficult hike by the following:

– elevation gained/lost

– rain/snow

– difficulty of terrain

– trail condition

– length

–  your personal physical fitness

Well, when Sean and I chose to hike in Koh Kong, I had to throw all that criteria out the window.

What classifies a difficult hike in Cambodia?

– leeches

– leeches

– complete absence of a trail 

– spiders

– crawling on all fours 

– wading through water

– leeches

– suffocating humidity

– leeches

– leeches

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We were clearly underprepared. Our shipment from Kuwait hasn’t arrived yet, so we were tramping through the forest in our beach gear. The guys at the lodge told me to wear socks. I didn’t get it. They said, “Oh, socks and sandals. Perfect. The best prevention for leeches.”

I thought—You’re kidding.

They then proceeded to take this picture of us, saying, “You need a ‘before’ photo.” 

I thought—It’s a small hike, guys. Five hours. Get over it.

I have never been more wrong.

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To begin, we start climbing up a 45 degree angle. Maybe 60. Needless to say, it was hand-over-foot. It was slide-back-down-with-every-step. I felt like Prince Charming, climbing Rapunzel’s tower through a ravine of twisted vines, if you took him out of a fairy-tale and put him into Dante’s Inferno.


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And then began the leeches. Sean took this picture at our first resting place when he removed his socks and shoes. The leeches aren’t like American leeches—these guys are thin, wiry things that jump on you with such tenacity that they are impossible to prevent.The rise up from the forest floor, wave their body around in the air, searching for carbon dioxide, temperature, and movement. When they smell these three things, I kid you not, they crawl at you at a scarily quick speed. Once they’re on your skin, the sucker on, and you have to pull them off. But when you pull them off, they attach to your other hand. Then you convulse into a hand-flinging-and-whining frenzy, trying to get this possessed leech off your body. There were countless times on the hike that Sean just stopped turning around when I would cry out, “Oh! No! Agh! Oh! Ee! Ow! Agh! No! No! No! Stop it!” It became a usual occurrence. Sean would calmly pull them off, calling out, “Sixteen.” “Seventeen.” Whatever tally he was at. Why is he bleeding so profusely in the above photo? You see, when leeches bite you, they inject an anti-coagulant into your bloody that allows your blood to flow freely. Leeches can then suck up to fifteen times their body weight in blood.

The shocker, if it hasn’t come already, is the sheer number of leeches that attached to us on the hike.

By the end, I had 32 leeches.

Sean had 33.

We started counting after we had gotten four bites in the first ten minutes of the hike. It really detracted from our ability to relax. But it made us hike faster…

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However, I’d hate to underscore the beauty of the Cambodian jungle. (This could probably be  better classified as a bamboo forest.) We saw oodles of wild mushrooms.
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More wild mushrooms.

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My favorite of the mushrooms we found.
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At one point we came to a riverbed that we could walk up. Leech city.

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Here I am, lost in the jungle ahead of Sean.  You can’t stop long to take a picture because the leeches will crawl up to you and attach themselves.

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Then this guy showed up. He was monstrous. The size of your whole hand—fingers included. I didn’t want to stop for the picture, in case he had hidden jumping abilities.

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Finally, we got to resting place number one. The bend in the river. It was a sanctuary of peace. There were no leeches! We could lay out, swim, relax, and play around on the rocks.


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This first resting place was a bend in the river with the perfect swimming hole. It was as if God had opened up the heavens.
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It was a beautiful place to play. We were able to breathe deeply again, out of the suffocating heat of the jungle.
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Here is  a leech I found on the bottom of my shoe, as we were gearing up to head back out on our hike. Nasty creatures. Right now, in this photo, he is doing that “smelling for a body” thing I was talking about. Then he would inch-worm himself around, until he found his victim. Ugh.

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Then we came to places where we had to wade through water. My shoes became a wet sponge. I was delirious by this point.

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As we reached our final destination, I was hot, hungry, tired, and out of water. But was it worth it?

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Totally.

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We found a shaded grotto in the waterfall and froze time for about an hour.

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Then, I guess the hike WASN’T as rough as I’m making it out to be, as a boat met us at the waterfall to take us home. Our friends opted out of the hike (they’d been here before) and took the boat up the river to meet us at the falls.

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Saying goodbye to the Tatai Waterfalls…

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Biscuit had quite a relaxing day.

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Along the river on the way back, we marveled at the thick of the jungle.

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We could now fathom the density of the forest. We crawled through it, swam in it, tramped under it, really got to know it inside and out. It was beautiful.

Then it was time to head home. We loaded up into Anna and Chino’s car and began the drive back to Phnom Penh. But like I said, an adventure is not an adventure without….

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Car problems.

Alas, everyone was a great sport, and after a few card games on the side of the road, everybody was mobile again.

It was the trip of a lifetime, and all in a mere three days.

If you ever plan to hike the Cambodian jungle, send me an email. I’ll give you some pointers.

Categories: Cambodia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Rainbow Lodge: Long Weekend, Part Two

Hello lovely readers!

Last time we left off,  Sean and I were boarding a boat to head up the river from Tatai to our lodge in the rainforest. (Flashback: It was our three-day weekend at the end of August. We had just driven through beautiful rolling hills, and are now in the coastal Southwest of Cambodia.)

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Sean snapped a quick photo of me boarding the boat. Careful balance is a must!

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As the boat roared off, we were swept into another world. The wind in our hair, the cool water lapping at our fingertips, the bobbing of the shallow boat as we all swayed back and forth, it was a “Wow, Cambodia” moment. (To avoid any confusion, that is Biscuit, the Chihuahua. It is Russ and Sasha’s dog, not ours!)

I really felt like we were in a film. After coming out of the populous capital of Phnom Penh, where there are people and motos flowing through the streets, it seemed like we were on some exotic vacation far from home. It was all rainforest as far as the eye could see.

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Turning off the motor, we coasted up to the jetty of The Rainbow Lodge. It is located in the South Cardamom Protected Preserve, one of the most pristine rain forests in Southeast Asia. It is said that there are tigers, elephants, and crocodiles, but I have never heard of any being seen. What did we see? Some gnarly spiders, unbelievable mushrooms, and lots, LOTS of bamboo. This jetty became my favorite place at the lodge—the gateway to the water park that is this gorgeous river. The lodge had free flippers (snorkeling fins), kayaks, and life jackets for you to borrow so that you can surf up and down as far as you please. The flippers were my favorite; I felt like a freshwater mermaid…

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Once we got off the boat, we headed up the hill to the lodge….
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Everything was made out of wood, which was a lovely change from the concrete and asphalt of the city. It felt like the structures themselves rose right out of the forest. This was the social area, where you could read, eat, drink, or relax.

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Dinner, which was included in the price of the lodge, was just divine.  (I swear they didn’t pay me to write this review.)

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I snuck away from dinner to take a photo of the magic.

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The next morning we awoke to the beautiful view outside of our bungalow window. If you look closely, you can see the river through the trees. It seems far away, but is really only a short walk. Like I said, no one in sight!

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Each of us (three couples) had our own private bungalow. It was so quiet and peaceful, I would love to go back.


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Morning sunlight.

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A view from our bungalow in the crisp morning air.

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Breakfast. Amazing, locally grown coffee, in a french press!

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One of the days we took the kayaks up river to find a waterfall we had heard about. On the other side of the river, a local woman took her boat downstream.

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At the helm of the boat, on top of the world.

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We found the waterfall! It was hidden up a creek through the thick of the jungle. We were able to climb around the on the rocks, take a mini-waterfall-shower, and even take a great photo using our ten-second timer. (You would never know Sean had knee surgery only three months ago, the way he was scrambling around!) Also, major shout-out to Sasha, who is a gorgeous Momma-to-be in her bikini!

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After the rumpus, we got back in our boats to paddle home. They say there are tons of snakes in the jungle, so I made sure to inspect our kayak extra thoroughly. (We had a recreational kayak, not a sit on top like Chino and Sasha’s. Recreational kayaks scream snake hide-out!)

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Before we got back to the lodge, we stopped at a place in the river where the rocks made for a good docking place. We took one final swim and played fetch with Kampot for a while.

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Back at the lodge, we were some tired doggies! This picture is for my sister—it’s the “Wandering Buffalo”. We each picked up these rubber buffs in Wall, South Dakota this summer. I promised to photograph him in a variety of interesting places…

You may think that this marks the end of our adventure in the jungle, but an adventure is not an adventure without which of the following:

A. A mind-blowing hike
B. Machetes
C. Car Trouble
D. Raging Waterfalls
E. All of the above

I hope you picked E. Check back soon for the scoop!

Categories: Cambodia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Kim And Sean’s Big Adventure To The Coast: Part One

I have been chomping at the bit to share our most recent adventure with you. As teachers, we work the basic 9-5 (or more like 6-5) job, Monday through Friday. When the weekend rolls around, we’re normally too knackered (a word I’ve adopted from our Kiwi friends here) to do anything but lay around the pool and catch up with our friends. When we got our first three-day weekend, we were set on venturing out of the city. I love Phnom Penh, it’s awesome, but there is so much more of Cambodia to see.

In Kuwait, there was Kuwait City, and that was pretty much it. I never felt like I was cheating myself on the weekends because I was doing all that there was to do, and I was loving it. Here, there is so much vast, untrammeled beautiful places, that they whisper to me in my sleep, taunting me.

When we accepted this job, I began to Google and fall in love with the Cardamom mountains.

We were planning on catching a bus to the coast, but our friends offered us a ride in their car to head out into the mountains to a lodge on the coast. (Yes, you can do both “mountains” and “coast” in one weekend!)

So, we all packed into their Mitsubishi Pajero and headed to Koh Kong.

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It’s a four-and-a-half hour drive, and really got stunningly beautiful about halfway through. If you look at the map above, you can see all of the environmentally-protected areas. I never knew Cambodia had so many reserves and parks myself until we got here.

The most popular part of the coast is Sihanoukville, which is near Ream National Park on the above map. To get to Sihanoukville it’s about a two and a half hour drive. The Cardamom Mountains, where we were going, take up the left-hand side of the country along the Thai border. Koh Kong is a small town along the border, and the lodge we were staying in was a twenty-minute drive inland. We were meeting another couple there, who also work at the school.

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Our friends Chino and Anna have a lovely puppy named Kampot. I am kind of falling in love with him and his goofiness.

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Cambodian countryside.

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We took a bathroom break on the long drive at a small roadside cafe. I love Cambodia’s calico sky.

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We found a new litter of puppies at the cafe. They were such cute little things! I want to get a dog so badly, but know it would be tough on both us and the doggy due to all the travel we do. I think I’ll just offer to babysit Kampot as much as possible!

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As we rolled into the Koh Kong area, Chino and Anna pulled off the road and told us we would be able to spot the lodge in the forest. I was confused about what they meant, but, lo and behold, we saw the teeny bungalows peeking out of the wilderness! You can only access the lodge by boat, but I will talk more about our arrival later…

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The pull out where we spotted the lodge. We are loving Cambodia.

Before we headed up the river to the lodge, we decided to get lunch. We had been driving since 8am, and it was around noon. We drove up to the coast and took a dirt road along one of the tributary rivers to a place called the “Crab Chack” (… or “shack” to us Western landlubbers). We had heard about how divine the seafood along the coast was, but I truly had no conception of what we were about to experience.

IMG_6716The Crab Shack was a little hideaway on the coast with hammocks, tables, and a few tourists sipping beer alongside the locals.

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You could walk along the beach, where Anna and Sasha looked at the beach glass. I was on a sensory overload. I didn’t know where to turn or what to do, it was all too much to soak in. I kept telling Anna and Sasha that I felt like I was on some tropical vacation that I would have to leave in a week and never see again, but then realized that I will be living here… for quite a while.

Then the food came.

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And what a feast it was. Anna told us to order the prawns with garlic. Each plate was heaped with the largest prawns I had ever seen. You would then create a dip made of fresh crushed Cambodian pepper and squeezed lime. The pot at the top of the photo held rice, which made it a symphony of flavors and textures in your mouth.

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I had never had such prawns in my life. They were so meaty, it was mouthfuls of shrimp. Never before in my life did I ever think I’d say, “Wow, that was a delicious mouthful of meaty, tender, juicy shrimp.” No tartar sauce needed here, folks.

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While we were eating, Sean spotted quite a beastly arachnid above our table.

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Here he tried to take another picture of the spider, but instead got a great shot of the atmosphere and mood of our lunch. Love the guy in the back.

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I was sad to leave the Crab Shack, but know that we will be back.


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Then it was time to head to the lodge… but this step of the journey must wait for another day. As it was our first ‘big journey’ out of the city, we took 300 pictures in 3 days. We were a little out of control. Instead of cramming all the pictures into one long post about the weekend as a whole, I thought you’d enjoy shorter, more focused posts to keep it interesting and palatable.

Check back in a few days to see where this boat takes us!

Categories: Cambodia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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