Friday, January 25, 2013

Lazy beaches and angry seas

Getting to and from paradise requires a 2-hour (on a good day) boat from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem. The boat trip there felt exciting at the time, but the return trip made it look calm by comparison. We pulled away from our secluded bay to warnings that the trip would be rough. Rough pretty much sums it up. The sea was angry that day, my friends, and while mountain-sized freighters ploughed stolid and unflinching through the Gulf, our tiny vessel was tossed, its occupants tossed, and one little girl’s breakfast too (twice). It was much like that Log Ride at the amusement park; we’d crest a swell and plummet into the trench, smashing into the next wave, soaking all aboard the S. S. Nausea. And when the swells rocked us from the side, there were several times when we tilted more than 45 degrees and back again, water a mere inch or two from the gunnels, and I thought for sure we were going into the drink. But otherwise, it was a blast. We arrived, wobbly-legged and water-logged at the pier, salt crystals coating our skin.

But it was well worth it for three days of bucolic, blissed-out relaxation at the aptly named Lazy Beach. Our rustic bungalows were steps from the beach, with a never-ending soundtrack of crashing surf. We watched sunsets, hammocked, read, played cards, swam and snorkeled with the fishes, marveled at moonlit waves, spotted the Southern Cross amid the constellations, and ate delicious (but expensive) food.

And when I say the bungalows were rustic, I mean simple, thatched roof, no screens on the windows, mosquito net; the “works.” The generator turned on after sunset, and ran until sometime in the night, giving us lights for a few hours. But there was no fan, so we had to leave the un-screened windows open. After patching a few holes in our mosquito net, we settled in the first night, but made the (in hindsight) epic mistake of not tucking in the net around the mattress, and we had a bit of a security breach in the night, when we were visited several times by unwanted visitors. And by that I mean something ewwy scampered across me three separate times! Gecko, mouse, rat, I don’t know, and I don’t really care, but I did. not. like. it.

So the next night we tucked in the netting under the mattress, and it kept the visitors out of the netted area, but sometime before dawn we heard scuttling and scampering up the walls and in through the window, and then a cacophonous ERH-HEURH! ERH-HEURHH! cut clear and sharp over the crashing waves, in the darkness beyond the mosquito net, inches away. It sounded big, like something much larger than the giant geckos we’d seen in the restaurant. I was imagining something like an oversized monitor lizard with a taste for human…

Though there was just the sheerest of materials between us and this unknown intruder, I felt safe in the netted bubble, as in no-YOU-go-find-out-what-it-is-I’m-not-going-out-there!… So it squawked a few times, then was eerily silent for a while, then we heard more unsettling scampering, and I saw one of those giant geckos on the window ledge. We found out later from the owner that it probably was one of the big geckos, and that they do produce a sound that is much larger than you would think. And it was probably also said gecko (or perhaps a mouse, or a rat, or perhaps an army of all three) who left scratch and bite marks in our soap, tried to eat my straw hat, left poop on the bed, ate through our nearly-new rubber dry bag to the sealed power bars (our emergency food!), and even through a plastic bag to nibble on some playing cards! Beasts!

But again, it was all worth it for three days of paradise…

The calm boat ride to the island

Our bungalow


Big gecko in the restaurant who would later make a visit to our bungalow

Big gecko, departing our bungalow...

Hermit crab tracks! Ev'ryday they shufflin'

Neat-o rocks

Can you see the gecko?

The amazing school of fish we spent a good amount of time marveling at

The black mass in the water is the school of fish that hung around the dock

Swimmin' with ze fishes

Hummingbird moth! Awesome!

The sea was angry that day, my friends!

Tarmac boarding for our short flight from Sihanoukville to Siem Reap

Cool cloudscape


  1. Wow. paradise indeed!
    The geckos and fish are so neat!
    And are you sure you were only there for a few days? In that one shot, it looks like that scruffy guy in the red shirt with grey sleeves had been stranded on that island for about 3 years! ;-)

  2. Mark bought a volleyball the other day...