Koh Rong Sanloem – a little paradise

The passage to the other island was quite rough and the boat rather overloaded, but we arrived safely about 45 minutes later in M’Pay Bay on Koh Rong Sanloem. The pier there was a construction site and it was rather adventurous to get from the boat on the pier (only possible with help from the guys working for the ferry) and over the pier to the island. Once on the island, just off the pier, there was a guy waiting, asking people where they intended to stay and gave instructions on how to get there. Very nice and very different to Koh Rong! I had a recommendation for a small little hostel a bit away from the beach and walked there. I was lucky that they had a free bed. They don’t have a homepage so you can’t make reservations. The Bora Bora Gardens belonged to a local family with two small kids. They had one 10-bed-dorm and one double room above the dorm. Everything was built by themselves and looked really nice. Every bed had its own mosquito net, the mattresses were comfortable and it was a lot quieter than closer to the beach. They had two bathrooms with coconut showers and western toilets and outside two sinks. It was $3/night.

You could also order breakfast and lunch there, they rented snorkeling equipment and answered questions about the island and you could have a towel for free if you asked for it. I really loved it there and ended up staying for a whole week.

On Koh Rong Sanloem there is almost no WiFi, only 2 or 3 places have WiFi at all and it is very slow if it works at all. Perfect place for a media diet! The beaches have almost white sand and crystal clear water, the locals are super nice and friendly, there is great local and international food (also a few more expensive places, but I didn’t go there) and fantastic smoothies.

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low tide in M’Pay Bay
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local kids in the water at M’Pay Bay (the beach right at the village, not the nicer one)
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locals playing soccer on a cloudy day

The Amok at the Kiki Restaurant was a dream! For Breakfast I loved going to Erin’s Kitchen, Kiki Restaurant (both great fruit pancakes) or the Old Souls.

There was also a place I can’t remember the name of – if it had any -just around the corner from the Bora Bora heading to the Cliff opposite a French hostel. They had the best smoothies on the island. Cheap, fresh and very yummy! They also served very cheap and amazing food.

The next days I mainly spent on the beach swimming, walking, reading, talking to people, playing cards, eating, drinking and sleeping. Once I got a massage and I went snorkeling twice. First time I went to The Cliff with two guys from the dorm – a restaurant and hostel on top of the hill that is great for watching the sunset and has nice cocktails

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view from the Cliff
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sunset from the Cliff
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Cocktails with Lukas and Hauke at the Cliff

and also stairs down to the water. It is very rocky there and not too easy to get in and out of the water, also because of the sea urchins. It was a nice diversion but not really worth it. Apart from a few shells and sea urchins there was hardly anything to see. Very few fish, basically no corrals, just rocks. The other time I went snorkeling in front of the Sunset Bungalows. There it was a little bit better than at the other site, but still not really worth it. At least there were more fish and a few corals. I guess it would still be nice, if you never snorkeled before though.

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sea urchins in front of the sunset bungalows

Twice I walked over to Clearwater Bay. It was about one hour to walk, first along the beach,

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from the village to the beach
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M’Pay Bay
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getting into a bit rougher terrain, closer to the jungle
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the new fashion, wearing only half sunglasses! 😉

then along the Driftwood Path through the jungle. It was a beautiful walk! At the end of M’Pay Bay there was a jungle style homemade outdoor gym. IMAG3956 (FILEminimizer)The beach in Clearwater Bay was amazing. They had put up some swings and hammocks there, perfect to chill.

There was also a hostel – Driftwood. It was nice with lots of hammocks and a great porch to look over the beach, but I wouldn’t like to stay there. First it is quite far away from everything else, so you are kind of stuck in this bay and the restaurant is rather expensive and doesn’t have too much choice.  In the evening they only have family dinner –fixed time and no choice. If you miss out to register or you don’t like what they serve that day you just have no other choice and the village is an expensive boat ride or a one hour walk away – one way! The staff was also not the friendliest and not locals. I definitely preferred to stay in the village and walk over to the nice beach if I wanted to, instead of the other way round. First time I went with two German guys I had met on the beach in M’pay Bay (Lukas and Hauke), the second time I went alone. When I went alone I saw some monkeys while walking through the jungle.

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sunset on the way back

On my first full day on the island there was a fund raising going on for a hospital. They had games during the day and a pub quiz in the evening. You could also buy ruffle tickets. I bought two, but didn’t win anything. After the raffle I went to the beach with the two guys I was snorkeling with in the morning. There was glowing plankton and if you went in the water in the dark and moved around the ocean started to glow. I went again the next night, but this time not just with the feet, but for a swim. It was pretty amazing!
On my last full day there was an opening party of a hostel close to the Bora Bora – The Hornbill. I went to the evening party with a girl from the dorm, but the music was horrible and way too loud so we didn’t stay very long.

On Thursday I first went for breakfast and then returned to pack my stuff. While doing so it started to rain. Not just a little but it was raining cats and dogs. I had to walk to the Mango Lounge to catch my ferry, but carrying my luggage in this rain, would have drenched me and all my stuff within seconds. So I checked out and waited under the roof in the hope that it would stop soon. At one point the owner got out a big umbrella and walked me over. That way at least my luggage stayed dry and most parts of me too. Very nice of him! It was raining so hard that we even got an inside river and lake at the Mango Lounge and the ferry arrived late.

Again an adventure to get on this pier and from there on the boat, but while we were driving to the mainland the rain finally stopped.

I absolutely loved Koh Rong Sanloem. It was so different from Koh Rong, a lot more relaxed and chilled and the locals were not yet infected with the tourist virus. They were still very friendly nice and just lived their lives. They were building a lot though, so it might be that this little paradise will become like its bigger brother Koh Rong soon. I hope it won’t, would be really a pity. The only downside I experienced on this island was that on my last full day someone stole more than $110 from me out of the locker in the dorm. I have no clue who did it and how (well the lockers had big gaps so not too difficult I guess); I just know for sure they are gone. I still had the money in the morning (I counted it to check my finances and then put it back) and in the evening it was gone. And no I was not drunk and didn’t spend it. I really hope it was another tourist and not a local! But I will never know.

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