This day began energetically as I rested in the comforts of my bed willing away a few hours before truly beginning my day because why not? After eating the same chicken and roasted veggie medley fusion at Nice Food, I began my trek to Long Beach toting hopefully enough supplies aka water for the day. I had heard about people spending the night at Long Beach in hammocks to enjoy the isolation and remoteness that it offers since it is still very much undeveloped but with the recent storms coming through the past few evenings and nights I would rather not chance it myself. The path led past a few village homes before digging itself into some relatively unspoiled jungle. In spurts, I questioned whether I was going in the right direction and whether my bones might eventually rest amongst the vines and overgrown greenery but each time a sandal nailed into a tree or a few blotches of red paint directed the way closer to my destination. Eventually I came to a point where the trail altered drastically from its normally flat and sure footed path. All my rock climbing and bouldering skills would need to be summoned in an effort to traverse the path that now dropped vertically downward through a series of boulders and slippery dirt patches. Just to make you feel a tad bit better about your prospects, the almighty path maker attached some ropes (reliable for me but I can’t say the same for the next person) to help the faithful rappel downwards. Considering the many other things I have had to endure to reach the goal in mind (namely Mount Doom in New Zealand, a feat not soon to be forgotten), this was cake. Once I returned to level ground after hopscotching my way across a tree root riddled finish line to the path, I found what everyone spoke so highly about. With the exception of a few others, the long, long stretch of Long Beach (extending apparently 7 km) remained untouched. Some locals were working on projects to turn this side of the island into a developed beach resort but until then it can be enjoyed for what it is: a lengthy stretch of white sandy shore devoid of all the propped up umbrellas, wrinkling whales on holiday, and boutique bungalows to cater to your ‘rustic’ needs. Although still lukewarm, the water offered a major refresher to the jungle sweat that I had going on. Since I love exercise and struggle to find enough of it, I had to take advantage of this opportunity to swim for aways in this unreal clear water. Always seen clearly through penetrable water, I got to appreciate how truly white the sand was. Under the rippling cerulean waters stood a limitless blanket of the finest white powder a cocaine drug lord has ever seen. It was so pure Walter White would have even been impressed. Every several meters I swam across a small lumped pile amidst the rest of the flattened sand but this pile which resembled a thin tangled pile of ultra white rope was of the finest cut grade imaginable. As soon as I swooshed my hand through it, it mushroomed into a cloud of white dust. This sand must have been freshly deposited by fish, possibly wrasse. After basking in the sun for a nap, I took the long walk along the beach to the opposite end which appeared very near initially until it didn’t. Along the way I noticed a fare bit of debris that had washed up onto the shore (like anywhere else Cambodians have decided to trash one of their treasures with an accumulation of filth). I did not run across any bodies swimming with the fishies but who knows when in Cambodia. The coconut and palm trees brought me back to tropical paradise as they lined the shore with an epic backdrop of baby blue embossed by white puffy fluffs of cloud. On the opposite end, resort cottages and bungalows had been set up housing visitors with far heftier bank accounts and security guards with a quick trigger to shoo off any photos. The long walk back trudging through the sinking earth took a lot out of me and baked my legs to a finely tuned lobster red but lucky for me (hopefully as well for my stomach) an unharmed orange washed up onto shore. Let’s kindly think that the gods of the sea were sending me an offering rather than whatever else it might have appeared to be. After finally arriving at the end of Long Beach (a moment that did not seem possible with the constant mirage of its purported appearance within view), I began climbing up the rock wall with a middle-aged Portugese man tagging along. The Portugese man kept talking his opinionated thoughts and barely giving recognition to what I had to say even though I was doing him the favor of keeping an eye on him. Waving goodbye to pleasantries and taking it for my own, I added considerable distance between the two of us until poof he was gone. I can’t be bothered with people like him; life is too short to waste time around such ignorance. The rest of the trail held no further pitfalls as I worked my way back to base camp. Before refilling my stomach with necessary sustenance, I met a couple of Dutch guys who went all ‘Survivor’ on a nearby deserted island living off what they brought with them and the island itself. Loaded up with pineapples, mangos, rice, rope, and hammocks, they braved the storms and isolation for a few days before the return boat picked them back up. If I had someone else traveling with me, I would give it a shot for the hell of it but not by myself. I ate and drank up a full bowl of Tom Yam with seafood and what a delight it was. While at the restaurant, I bought a ticket for a full day of activities including snorkeling, BBQ, a beer, fishing, sunset, and glow in the dark plankton for the absurd price of $9. After a mango fruit salad (50 cents a piece, plus they cut it all up for you), I was feeling pretty good. Sam seemed to want company for dinner so I joined him but just ordered a salad (a big, mammoth salad that vegetarians and rabbits alike would get jealous of) at this BBQ defined restaurant. I can guarantee you with a 100% certainty that no one has ever ordered just a salad from this restaurant in its history but I will eat my salads when I get a chance out here in Asia since they just don’t do it or it is outrageously expensive in comparison. Since the sun, swimming, hiking, and trudging through sand took me to task, I said goodnight to today much earlier than the many partygoers on the island tipping back their drinks.
‘Wats’ in Cambodia’?’ Day 138: ‘Welcome to the Jungle!’