You hear Cambodia from any backpacker in the World, and the thought of the majestic Angkor Wat sunrise rushes into your mind. Not taking away the beauty and the scenic orgasm of one of the most splendid monuments in the World- the Angkor Wat in Sieam Reap, Cambodia - the temples, which became World famous after a certain Indiana Jones movie overshadow the rest of Cambodia and most certainly an island called Koh Rong Sanloem.
Koh Rong Sanloem is 45 minutes south of ‘the’ party town of Cambodia, Sihanoukville, in the gulf of Thailand and 20USD gets you an open return ticket from paradise.
A largely alienated small island, Koh Rong Sanloem plays little brother to Koh Rong, which is pretty analogous to Koh Phagan of Thailand, known for its parties and what nots. However, ‘Sanloem’ is perhaps one of the last islands untouched by the fidelity of the party mongers and the influx of tourists.
I took a speed ferry from Sihanoukville to M’Pay Bay in Sanloem, which is some miles away from the famous Saracen Bay where most of the touristy bungalows are polarized.
M’Pay Bay however is nestled amongst a small fishing town and it offers any backpacker a chance to indulge oneself into the local tradition. Another highlight of M’Pay Bay is the serene calm that hovers over it and how magically it enchants you into submission, the feeling of freedom or perhaps of detox.
The beach was a 5 minute walk from the hostel where I stayed in called ‘The Drift’ and one had to be in Sanloem to believe the beauty of nature – how crystal clear waters hugs the coastline of the island and if one lets the whole scenery sink in, utopia would he or she be screaming.
Scheduled to stay there for 2 days, I extended a day because the island has a crazy hold over you which makes you feel so much like home, so much relaxed, that all the problems into the world seem to vanish in oblivion. It is one of those places where you go to find your solitude, to find yourself, to be in your own thoughts, to discover the meaning of life; and if one is not into the philosophical things of life then the island offers you a whole array activities.
Snorkelling on the periphery of the Island was one of the best experiences in my life as one could see the vivid sea life forms. Apart from that, the famous planktons that glow in the water in night, pretty much like a firefly, were one of the highlights of the trip.
Another googly, which the Island throws at you and bowls you over with, is the sunset. The amazing hue of the sun setting can be seen on the ‘Dragonfly’, which is a backpacker place situated atop a hill with a splendid view of the sun dipping into the ocean. It is one of the moments in my life where I knew I was seeing something special in the making and rightly so to even put it in words would be a huge disgrace to the moment, however you can watch the sunset while sitting on top of the rocks, giving the setting a mystical touch.
Of all the places that I have ever been over the last 2 years or so, Koh Rong Sanloem is the place I would kill to visit again. It has that type of hold over you, like youre living in a dream and you don’t want the dream to end. I suppose, it is a place made of dreams, if that even made sense.
P.S The only downside of the Island is the Cambodian Karaoke. :)
Best Place To Stay In Koh Rong Sanloem: THE DRIFT (The staff there are very helpful and will assist you in arranging snorkelling tours)