CAMBODIAN DIARY - 4th CHAPTER - Complete Chaos in Koh Rong Samloem

There are these really perfect days in Edenic locations that are perfect for me as a traveller, but are challenging me as a blogger - there is simply not much to write about. 'Pretty' is quickly described...and then there is not much left but enjoying and cherishing the moment.

As you can see, I began the day - and the boat trip full of optimism.

Today, my friends, was quite the opposite: extremely challanging for the traveller in me and a great gift for the blogger.

I've started the day early, but very relaxed: after two days in paradisaic Sok San Beach it was time to move on to Koh Rong island's little sister Koh Rong Samloem; the one that's supposed to be even more secluded and beautiful than the big guy.

Since everything is a little different here, one of the guesthouse guys took me on the back of his bike to the village while my suitcase was riding with another one.
We climbed on the waiting fishing boat - we is my bag and I.

Still in the safe harbor of Sok San village.

The boat took off, slowly gliding over the glistening ocean along the beautiful coast. Gratefully I was thinking back at the relaxing days I had enjoyed there - soaking in a last glance at the wonderful beach, this time from the was so beautiful.

Gliding over calm waters illuminated by the morning sun.

Then the boat left the Sok San shoreline and turned eastwards into the open sea. Some waves rocked the boat, water splashed inside. Sort of fun. Bigger waves rocked the boat, crashed against the wood, shook it from side to side. More water splashed the maybe eight passengers - apart from me only local people. Some of the guys changed their seats. More waves. Bigger waves. Much bigger waves. Forming valleys of water of maybe 25 feet depth. And the boat, that all of a sudden seemed to be just a little wooden toy, crashed with a big splash right into the deep blue hollow.
The captain had first turned off the motor and just let the huge waves guide our way. The waves were not guiding, they ware playing with the piece of wood with a couple of people in it. We were rocking from side to side, partly bending so much to one side, that I was afraid we'd overbalance.
I wasn't only afraid of that. I was afraid the boat might be crashed by the violence of the waves. I was afraid one of the bigger waves might simply drown us. I was afraid to die.
I thought about the refugees coming to Europe in those nut shells like this one which are in addition overloaded with people and out of view of any shore.
Still - it got worse and worse and I got more and more scared.

For obvious reason I have only pictures of the journey's happy part. Later I didn't take pictures since I was too busy to survive.

I asked the guy next to me how long was left. He smiled. That was nice.
I translated my question into Khmer by tapping on my wrist. He smiled. That very moment we dashed against another huge wave - big splash - I screamed. He laughed. I was too scared hating him. With both arms I was holding on to a post only thinking that I didn't want to die like this.
As a matter of fact, I do not want to die at all, but that's a whole different story.
I didn't want to die all lost somewhere in the ocean nobody being aware of my death. Only after weeks when my relatives kept searching for me, someone will report that there was this barang with a big red bag that unfortunately didn't make it.
I wished I could pray. I wished I could wake up from this nightmare.
Then I saw some sort of small settlement, hoping so, so much there would be the Koah Touch jetty. And indeed, it seemed that the captain tried to navigate this floating coffin towards that spot. I wasn't sure since the boat was still stirring in many directions - but the course seemed more and more obvious. I loosened my grip a little bit and realized only then how firmly I was holding the post. Docking and getting off the boat was another also quite long and adventurous story since although they towed the boat it kept rocking and floating with much power away from the jetty back towards the ocean.

Feeling very shaky I staggered along the jetty towards the ticket booth. Either the slow boat for 5 Dollars at 1.30 p. m. or the speed ferry right now - makes 12 bucks. After the just undergone adventure I didn't care about the bucks - speed ferry it was. The ocean was still very rough, but the ferry was for one much bigger and steadier on the rocky surface and secondly it's made of metal, it's covered, psychologically a very different story.

Arrival at Koh Rong Samloem, Freedom jetty. I need to go to M'Pay Bay, please. Water-taxi 30 Dollars. You ought to be kidding me!? There is a restaurant with some adjacent bungalows at the end of the jetty, and the people, although very busy serving breakfast, are mighty nice and helpful and call the guest house I've booked at M'Pay Bay. They tell me they might send a boat, but I have to pay 20 Dollars. Every bargaining from my side is just nipped in the bud. Their last words are that either they will be able to send a boat or they won't. If they do, I'll have to fork over 20 bucks - take it or leave it.

I must say in general that Cambodians are not very zealous, and business-minded only insofar that they try to squeeze the highest amount they can get out of you. There is hardly any policy, any marketing scheme whatsoever. They quote a ridiculously high price and if you deny they just let you walk away. I'm not sure if the market really regulates itself this way on a long term. They don't seem to get it that they'd be much better off if they wouldn't dupe people so obviously but exchange service for dough.

Anyway, back to my accommodation. After I asked the super nice supervisor at the restaurant to call the M'Pay Bay-jerk again, the jerk confirmed he could not send a boat. Period.
Great: I had a room, but was not able to get there.
After the jerk has been such a jerk I didn't want to stay with them anymore, anyway.
The only problem was that every accommodation around the jetty seemed to be full. 'I might have a bungalow for you', said the super nice supervisor. We agreed on a price that was surprisingly good, he only urged me not to use the A/C and breakfast would not be included. Fine. Problem solved.
I ordered breakfast and after that a guy lead me to a room which was quite nice.
'Yes, I take it. I get my stuff from the restaurant'.
Back at the restaurant the super nice supervisor tells me that I have to wait till 2 p. m. since other people have booked that room.
I stare at him in incomprehension: 'You've said I can have the room!?'
'Yes, you can. But you have to wait till 2 if people confirm.'
'And if the people come, I cannot have the room?'
'Yes, you can. But wait till 2, people confirm.'
'But if these 'people' confirm at 2 p. m., I don't have a place, right.'
There is a little more of these to contradictory dialogue until we agree that I am right: If these people show up, I'm homeless. Great, so why did I drag all my stuff up the beach to look at a room that will never be mine? I think he thought, this poor lady looks so sad, let's just show her a room, that will cheer her up. And it actually did...for ten minutes.

By now I feel a little exhausted and it's only 11.30 a. m. Some days pack all their challenges in the first couple of hours and then for the rest of the day there's nothing left. Let's see here. I've had it, consider briefly to go back to Koh Rong, abolish the thought since somehow it wouldn't be the same anymore, but I wanna leave with the next ferry. I'm going to the main land. Unfortunately I'm not the only one with this wish. The pier is packed with people and their luggage. And they are standing there since the ferry I arrived on a couple of hours ago was until now the only one going to the mainland - and it did not take a whole bunch of people since it was a different company; actually the company I had booked, too. So all these people have been waiting since 8 o'clock this morning for the Buva ferry that never came. A fat guy working for gtvc takes advantage of the situation and sells another ticket to the most desperate ones that rather pay another 12$ than getting stuck on the island. Only problem to this brilliant plan: The fat guys ferry doesn't show up, neither. Rumor has it that the police forbid the ferries to go because of the rough ocean. So now a bunch of people at least has two tickets, but still no ferry to cross the...lord have merci (pun intended)

What an irony: This jetty, where people got stuck for hours, is called the freedom pier.

There is one more try where the super nice supervisor tries to get me a room next door, but it seems to be another of his let's-cheer-her-up-actions because the neighbor doesn't have anything available. By now it's 1.30 p. m., I've been dealing with this for hours. I get on the internet, book a really basic hut for a far too high price and call it a day.

What looks quite rustic and idyllic is a extremely basic for an extremely high price - I think this combo is called a rip off.

Now it's a quarter to eight here on Saracen Beach in compared to Koh Rong mighty ugly and dirty Koh Rong Samloem and I'll crawl in my shack - called 'bungalow' - turn of the light to not see the critters and will finally sleep. It was a day that used up all my forces - mentally and physically.

You know what, I only hope that tomorrow will be a day that bores the traveller to tears and challenges the blogger big time. Sorry guys, I won't feel bad about tiring you tomorrow.
Thanx in advance for your understanding.

Wanna know what happened before? Here are the previous chapters of my Cambodian Diary:

CAMBODIAN DIARY - 1st CHAPTER - Commotion in Phnom Penh

CAMBODIAN DIARY - 2nd CHAPTER - Confusion in Sihanoukville

CAMBODIAN DIARY - 3rd CHAPTER - Calmness in Koh Rong

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during my trip to Colombia earlier this year, in this Cambodian Diary I'm posting one chapter from every stop. At the end of the entire tour there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant travel information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy my narratives and reflections.

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  1. This is such a comprehensive guide and your photos are great - I’d love to visit Bangkok myself someday.

    1. Ouuuukay - Bangkok is about 1000 km from the place I'm writing about in this post....which as a matter of fact is not a guide at all...🤔


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