‘Wats’ in Cambodia’?’ Day 139: Bioluminescent Plankton

The night (mostly the early morning) was a restless one for me thanks to the racket that penetrated my consciousness. Besides the strong whiskey breath of Sam sleeping next to me, roosters crowed loudly without holding anything back, every moment stretching their vocal cords. Beyond the fact that I was already prepared to fashion my own machete for the occasion, the sound was so annoying I reckon vegetarians as well as PETA would alter their stance on the subject. After Sam left the island, I looked for a new place for accommodation with tonight being my last night on the island before likely drifting off to a nearby island called Koh Rong Samloem. With the remaining time before the day’s activity boat trip left at one p.m., I relaxed because I am pretty sure that is what people do on islands and beaches but I haven’t quite figured that one out yet thanks to my inhibition to sit still. When the moment arrived after some satisfying sitting time, the boat departed for the small island I laboriously kayaked to just a couple days ago. On the boat I met some Spaniards who first took me as one of their own thanks to my tanned Mediterranean complexion. We snorkeled for a fair bit of time but not enough to circumvent the island. The appreciation for the coral and marine life did not reach the same heights as before upon my first review and exploration; regardless, I can’t complain about another opportunity explore more marine life in these tantalizing tropical waters. From there, we cut across this stretch of sea to a fishing spot in between Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem as the Cambodians running the boat blasted American ‘classics’ with a noticeable preference for Eminem, including everyone’s favorite “Ass Like That”, despite their minimal understanding of English. With each lyric I had to shake my head in disbelief over what my poor ears were experiencing. At first, I expected genuine fishing rods to reel in some of the sea’s wildlife for our evening’s BBQ but with the limited space on this rocking vessel that sure was foolish. We were each handed a thick plastic ring wrapped in fishing line with a pebble and hooked bait attached. I hate fishing to begin with but seeing clueless Chinese girls (sorry!) reel in some fish took further shots to the ego. Without even a nibble I was hard pressed to continue. The Cambodians brought aboard the most fish but with a stacked deck of three hooked bait on the line the odds were ever in their favor. Once one of the Cambodians started passing around cans of beer I decided to devote my full dedication and attention to the care and exploration of what lurked within its aluminum shell and leave the fishing for the more patient. Once that thankless sport came to a conclusion, we progressed onward around the lush green and forested island of Koh Rong to the other side where Long Beach awaited. For the time available to me, I contented myself with lazily floating and rippling with the waves until the BBQ was served. On board, I ate some of the pre-prepared shish-kabobs as well as the fruits of everyone else’s labor in the form of fish fully attached left to me to de-head and de-skin the crisped fish as well as the quintessential rice. The glow of the red sunset unhampered by any blockade along the horizon (with the exception of clouds that expanded the wholesome light into a divergence of creams colors) offered a poignant touch to the finality of the day. After we returned to Koh Tuich (the main base for all guesthouses, bungalows, and bars on the island), we waited until the light of the sun had fully disappeared before we returned to the water to explore the underwater glow of the plankton’s bioluminescence, which was the main reason I signed up for the day’s boat trip. Around to a less light polluted part near the island we docked in the darkened deserted waters. After jumping into the black abyss, I began wriggling my feet and slashing my hands through the water to stir up whatever may or may not lurk in sight. Upon the slightest touch, the slightest shimmering embers came to life enlightening the water as well as my own imagination. I continued to stir up the water with my hands until it looked like my paws glowed as well to the point that I felt I had now grasped the power to provide light and fire through my own dexterity. Upon free diving further into the deep, the glow grew stronger and more potent to touch. Although the sky above offered an expansive breadth of light through the starry sky, the glow from below went beyond what I had imagined. After some Tom Yam seafood soup back on the island, the night came to a close without even batting an eye upon hitting my pillow. Tomorrow, I will be leaving Koh Rong for its sister island at Koh Rong Samloem to experience something potentially different. 


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