Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cambodia - Day 11: Koh Rong Island

It rained again that night, multiple times, in fact, but we were unscathed in the bungalow. In the morning, we dressed and went down to the restaurant for breakfast. After eating, we walked up the beach and found a place to rent a big three-person kayak for $12. We paddled down the Koh Tui Beach, around the rocks at the end of it, and pulled ashore at Treehouse Bungalows to get some water before continuing. A sign in front of Treehouse Bungalows boasted of a wood-fired pizza oven, and we discussed returning for dinner while we munched through a tube of Pringles and rested. When our snack was finished, we returned to the kayak and continued on to the same beach that we had walked to on the previous day, Long Set Beach. This time, as the tide was high, the beach was completely deserted. People could not cross on foot. With the whole beach to ourselves, we pulled our kayak up onto the beach, took off our life preservers, and went swimming. It was the kind of seclusion that we had imagined when planning our trip.

Snorkeling posse!
When we had had enough, we returned the kayak, exhausted from paddling for nearly 90 minutes (45 minutes each way), and stopped at Smile Guesthouse, a restaurant in front of which there was a giant Christmas tree made out of plastic bottles. Lunch was good but, as we were learning, it took a long time to get our meal like it seemed to everywhere in Cambodia. We spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach near our bungalow. Vito befriended a Cambodian boy who was snorkeling, too, and they spent the rest of the afternoon in the water together. I finished the novel that I was reading, The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam, the autobiography (Angela learned later that some of the accounts in the novel were, perhaps, inaccurate or *gasp* false) of a Cambodian woman who had been sold into the slave trade as a young girl and eventually escaped that life to start organizations in Cambodia and internationally where child-prostitution still rages today.

Anyway, we returned to our bungalow, cleaned up, and went down to the restaurant for a drink. We also wanted to pay our tab—there was no way to get more money on the island—and assess our finances. We only had the cash that we had brought with us, and we needed to make sure that, when we left on the 30th, we would have enough to pay our taxi-driver who would be taking us to Phnom Penh for the final couple days of our vacation. As it had rained quite a bit more the night before, the mosquitoes were out in force. Angela could count the new bites every few minutes and, despite being covered in natural insect repellant, we were all quite uncomfortable. As it was, mosquitoes had hit us pretty hard since we had arrived on the island, and we were all sporting tiny red spots on our legs and ankles. Additionally, we had been warned about sand flies and instructed to use coconut oil to protect against them, but they hadn’t really bothered us.


When we finished our drinks, we walked up the beach to the Treehouse Bungalows restaurant to try the pizza. As usual, it took a long time to get served, but the pizza had a very light crust and was quite tasty: Angela ordered a Napoli pizza (anchovies, capers, garlic), I ordered a Capricciosa (mushroom, ham), and Vito ordered a Hawaiian. Vito had also been enjoying chocolate milkshakes on a daily basis and ordered his usual, while Angela and I quaffed cans of Klang beer. We enjoyed the pizza and returned to our bungalow. We had read about how, at night, it was possible to see the glowing or sparkling plankton in the water, and we wanted to see it, but nothing materialized. The circumstances for observing them, whatever they were, had to be perfect.

We went to bed without much fuss but, at around midnight, Vito woke up, said he had to vomit, and proceeded to do just that in the middle of the bungalow floor. Clean-up was not difficult. Fortunately, there were gaps between the floorboards, and we washed everything down underneath the bungalow. When we had cleaned sufficiently by rinsing the floor with buckets of water, we returned to bed. Vito and I did not sleep the rest of the night as Vito continued to make trips to the bathroom. I lost count, but Vito bragged the next day that is was more than ten times. I was worried about going outside, but we weren’t attacked by geckos or giant jungle insects or monkeys. Vito was in bad shape, though, and I was really worried that his condition would not improve, and so thought about how we could get off the island in a hurry. So far from a hospital, had this trip been a mistake?

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