"Survivor" in Koh Rong island
It was definitely nice spending a day in Sihanoukville and blending with the locals as they enjoy life at its fullest, but our real beach vacation was waiting for us one boat trip away. We were going to Koh Rong island - a magical, quite place with white sand and crystal clear sea water. The transfer boat would leave at Port 65 in Sihanoukville. The night before we've arranged a tuk-tuk driver to pick us up at the hotel and to take us there. He guaranteed he knows the port. And we trusted him. He's a local, we're just tourists. We left the hotel as planned, sit comfortably in the tuk-tuk and started our journey. At some point the tuk-tuk driver told us that we've arrived. I looked around and we were at the entrance of a cargo port. We asked him to confirm that Port 65 is really there, as supposedly we had to continue walking until we find it. He asked something a guy standing there around (in Khmer of course, so we didn't understand a thing) who gave him direction to somewhere on our right side. We continued our tuk-tuk drive on a relatively small, full with cottage-similar buildings and extremely dirty street. We were going forward and back looking for the port and not being able to find it. There were only 5 minutes left until the boat leaves and the tuk-tuk driver seemed more lost that ever. I was talking to him trying to find a way to contact the boat company and he was simply ignoring me, repeating only "Yeah, yeah". I got so pissed off, I yelled at him, so he stopped in the middle of the street. I hate such an ignorant attitude. We called the transfer company so the driver could get directions directly from them in their own language. That was the time we got to experience the roaming rates in Asia. It was really disturbing how expensive that 1-minute phone call was... At least they knew we were on our way. They guaranteed that the boat would not leave without us. After a few more attempts, we finally reached the port. Alleluia!
Conclusion: don't genuinely trust tuk-tuk drivers when assuring you they know the place you want to reach.
The rest of the trip to paradise went smoothly. We were able to check-in right after we've arrived. Oh, we also had a room upgrade, which was really nice, as we got a beach-front bungalow. It was kind of a low season and the resort was almost empty (relatively for its size, though). On the reception desk I saw several signs saying "Survivor Cambodia" and I immediately remembered that Bulgarian Survivor (and not only) was also filmed in Cambodia. And it was curious to find out that while the contestants stay in the forest, the production team usually stays in this same resort. And I understand why. Located almost at the bay's tip, Sok San Beach Resort is for sure one of best beach resorts I've been. Snowy-white sands, turquoise, warm water, deep blue skies... Simply paradise.
The scene around really made us forget we were actually in Asia, where dirt is everywhere. The beach was constantly being cleaned which was unexpectedly nice. Unfortunately, when leaving the resort's beach we faced the truth and had a very quick reality check. Just after passing both ports that were kind of separating the resort from the rest of the bay, garbage was everywhere. It was garbage brought by the sea, not left there consciously by people. But it was still there. And even when visiting the Sok San village, which is located just around 300 m from the resort, the scenery was the same. Still, it was very interesting to see how the locals live in what I saw and felt as a paradise. The village was very small - maybe around 20-30 houses, all with the same architecture. Wooden houses, where the second floor is closed, and the ground floor doesn't exist. What was supposed to be a ground floor (at least in my head) was all open area between the supporting beams, used as a garage, storage space or simply as a resting area, always with a hammock. And in most cases there were chickens walking around, as well. There were also a few stores, like this one.
Regardless the contrasting scenery we saw, it was impossible not to fall in love with Koh Rong island and it's Sok San area. The tranquility of the bay and its stunning beauty, plus the kindness of the people in the village, made me wonder how is really life there. For sure, it's not a wealthy one, but it really seemed as an easy-going and happy one.
I was convinced - I love Cambodian people.