‘Wats’ in Cambodia’?’ Day 140: Now That’s What I Call Paradise!

With the time available to me until my ferry left Koh Rong and its backpacker bars at noon for the secluded sister island Koh Rong Samloem and its hopefully more restful shores, I lounged on one of the cushioned seats in the guesthouse begging to be occupied while sipping tea like a good ol’ chap. Too curious to help themselves, a couple of young Cambodian girls hovered around me as I played some games on my iPod touch. With little hesitation, the pair draped themselves over me to get a closer look. Eventually I offered to let them play which they were only too glad to do. The game was only a simple math and logic game but they took to it excitedly trying to beat their previous scores. After awhile I had to leave those cute little dolls to board the ferry for the next island on my itinerary. Once deposited onto Koh Rong Samoleom, I needed to find a place to stay for the night and joined the three Spaniards I met on the boat trip around Koh Rong, a Spaniard friend of theirs, and an Italian girl who spoke Spanish as well. Although all of them spoke a fair bit of English, I was clearly on the outside looking in. My limited grasp of the Spanish language beyond hola!, chicas, and buenos noches has continued to burn me with the packs of Spaniards I have run across. After striking out several times to score a bed or a bungalow thanks to the Vietnamese Liberation holiday, I began wondering whether I might be resting my head on the sandy shore for the night, which didn’t worry or bother me much at all. Eventually way down the shore where the beach stood quite empty, we found a bungalow (owned by the most baked and chill Turks) capable of supporting the six of us. After the sweaty search amidst the undying heat, the only thing each of us wanted was to cool off in the water. This part of Kong Rong Samloem (most populated stretch by a long shot but vacant when compared to the big island of Koh Rong) is called Saracen Bay thanks to the outstretched arms of jungled land reaching from both sides to form this massive bay. I didn’t realize it until someone mentioned it but the water was calm with barely the slightest peep from the ripples that struggled to reach the shore. This supposed seawater felt like a lake with the exception of its saltiness as the surface lay like a flat plane to nowhere. I knew quite quickly that this island was a special place. The long stretch of beach laid mostly bare of trash and accentuated the clear blue water with its ghost white granules. With the surface of the water as an accepting cushion, I floated atop while resting my eyes as the wind proceeded to motion itself over my face and my inflated chest to calm my nerves as only an island may. I continued to rotate my body in a full circle with only my head bobbing above the water’s crest as I took in the silence beyond the lapping waves, the undisturbed green jungle, and the strained cream puffs that drifted up above. Once I reluctantly regained my footing upon the shore, I saw many tiny pearls of sand finely crafted by the crabs that fumbled from hole to hole to escape a lurking footstep. These perfectly small balls of sand that resembled couscous in the oddest way formed an example of nature’s dedication to art. Just as I had seen in Railay, Thailand, they all came together forming interpretive art swirling as they chose until the rising tide or sweeping footsteps erased all their efforts. Later on, we met another Spaniard (I know, what are the odds right?) now living in China who gave us a breakdown of the oddity of the Chinese and their lifestyle. Apparently in certain Chinese bars Westerners can drink for free. Bar owners will keep refilling your drinks to keep you happy and more importantly lure in the big money businessmen who like the idea of drinking with Westerners as if we are all celebrities. The island is expensive for drinks, food, and accommodation but for a few days I can tolerate it when situated in such peace and quiet. At dinner, I ordered their curry and asked for more chilies to add to the thick broth. As I told my Spanish friends, I like to hurt a little when I eat to feel some of that burn from the heat. After Thailand, I think I am mostly prepared for any spice that will come my way (I’m sure India will find a way to silence this bravado). While in the water once more, I looked up into the sky and found beyond the many clouds that scattered around my view a large halo surrounding the magnanimous moon. The halo looked like a large smoke ring that held its shape and size. I had never seen nature create this sorcery before; it was pure magic. Since no bars with booming music stood on this island, we were able to relax under this bungalow/bar/restaurant with a few beers, plenty of Spanish, and card games. They mostly kept to the English language but with the overbearing majority I couldn’t fault them for sneaking in some Spanish. I tried my darnedest to listen in through all the rolling Rs and absorb what I could but nothing of any meaning passed through my ears. Our bungalow had no running water so we would be roughing it for a couple nights and the electricity turned off in the middle of the night. How did I know the fan magically shut off on its own? A heavy sweat is all it took. No worries, no complaints. After all, I am footsteps away from the beach and paradise. 

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