Friday, December 26, 2014

Cambodia - Day 10: Koh Rong Island

The weather the following morning was as glorious as it had been when we had arrived and, after breakfast in the Paradise restaurant, we spent the morning on the beach. At lunch, wanting to explore our dining options more, we walked back into the village and lunched at a bar/hostel/restaurant that was blaring loud hip hop music. The fried noodles and noodle soup that we ordered were terrible, but we ate our meal begrudgingly and then returned to our bungalow to rest a bit. Angela read about a more secluded beach, Long Set Beach, and we thought to go looking for it.

Obligatory palm tree picture.
At the end of the Koh Tui Beach, we cut through a grove of wind-bent trees and scattered boulders and emerged on another beach lined with golden sand in front of Treehouse Bungalows. The sand had changed colors completely! There were also more shells and rocks to discover. We trekked another 20 minutes through the jungle along the sea and reached a point where water flowed into a lagoon separating the beach we were standing on from the one on the other side. There was a sand bar built up between the two beaches, and, as the tide was receding, we saw that we could ford the little inlet. We crossed without incident and found ourselves on a long, virtually unoccupied white sand beach. There were a handful of sun-bathers and a small wooden shack where a young man was selling drink and snacks. A few chickens scratched around in the shade of an old beached green and white fishing boat, but, otherwise, the beach was deserted. We dropped our beach gear and waded into the clear water; many white and black spotted fish about the size of closed fists darted about in the sand that our feet stirred when we waded around.

The sun was getting lower and we decided to return before it got any darker. I had read that there were many poisonous snakes and spiders on the island, but we thought it would be best to avoid running into any in the dark, if possible. With the tide still going out, the lagoon was almost completely separated from the sea now, and Angela and Vito stopped to see if they could attract any of the hundreds of tiny fish that we could see schooling near the lagoon’s edge. There were also numerous hermit crabs dragging their shells and leaving crisscrossing trails all along the lagoon bottom.

Critter on the wall!
We got back to our room around dusk, and, after turning on the light, I reached for my hat that was hanging from a hook on the wall, and something scampered out from underneath it! We could see that it was some kind of lizard or gecko, but the light was not strong enough to look at it clearly. At lunch, I had purchased a flashlight and, taking it out of the package, it seemed like it was coming in handy sooner than we’d thought. I shined the light directly on the creature, and the dark grey beast about as long as my foot and ringed with thin white stripes around its body began to slink away to a darker recess of the bungalow. I kept the light focused on it, and, eventually, it went up and over the wall. As I mentioned before, the bungalow was open-air, so the roof did not rest on the top of the walls, but was suspended on rafters, so even with the doors and windows locked, any animal or insect could enter at its leisure. As the surprising guest had disappeared from our view, I thought I would examine the rest of the ceiling, and, to our surprise, there were three more on the sides of the rafters directly over our heads! They were twice the size of the small one that we had chased away. They were beautifully scary and silent, watching us gawk at them. I looked around in some other crevices and took a picture before Angela said, “don’t look anymore. We know who the bungalow belongs to.” We supposed they were geckos, larger than any we had ever seen, and harmless—helpful, in fact, as they consumed insects and mosquitoes that were everywhere here. We had to go to bed, however, and they hadn’t bothered us the night before, so we did just that—changed into our pajamas and went to sleep. 

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