Rediscovering the Wild Wild East

Trip Start Jan 26, 2010
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Trip End Jun 08, 2011


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Where I stayed
Blue Moon Guesthouse

Flag of Cambodia  , Kaôh Kŏng,
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I wound my way through a wilderness even more untouched then remote Laos. I was heading towards the southwestern coast of Cambodia. The town has lacked a road, until three years ago. In the past the only way to arrive was via six hour boat ride. So you can imagine that the town is still developing and the area between where the old road ended and Koh Kong is untouched wilderness. Upon exiting the bus I was bombarded by drivers, competing for my business. I was hardened by four days in Phnom Penh and easily ignored this relativity mild behavior. Once I had decided on a guest house I chose Mister Lef to take me their. On the way we decided to meet in a couple of hours, he would take me to the mangrove forest.

Lef showed up early, he was a good driver but he also expected more payment than usual. A storm was coming and I questioned him if it was worth going. He gave me the blanket response "No problem." So we were off, the community has built a lifted walkway in which you can safely walk above the mud and water floor of the mangroves. Upon reaching the end, the storm fell violently upon us. It had impressive force, this amount of rain I had only seen in the worst of storms of home. Lef referred to it as a 'small rain.' A thatched roof restaurant provided some shelter, although it did leak some. We BSed as well as we could with the language barrier. An hour past and we were able to leave, driving back a different way so that I could see an Islam village. Once out of the mud Lef asked "You Drive?" So I took the handle bars and only almost crashed once after a hard break on the newly wet roads. Lef didn't say much for about five minutes after this slight mishap.

The next day, Lef picked me up to see some nearby waterfalls and river. The ride was gorgeous through the pristine Cardaramon Mountians. The waterfall was small, but had a small ledge to jump off and we shared with just two other girls. They were from the UK, we started talking and soon we both realized we desired to visit Cambodia's largest Island, the uninhabited Koh Kong Island. However lacked the group to make it affordable. The island is a wet dream for Lost fans A)It is uninhabited B)It is massive and could contian a plethora of who knows what C)Know one really knows what it contains, because exploring the Interior is forbidden. Soon my driver chimed in his uncle had a boat and we had a plan.

The next morning Lef picked me up, I told him we'd have to stop at a restaurant because my guest house was out of bread and couldn't make me a sandwich. 3 restaurants later we found out the bread maker was dead. Instead I had fried rice. After a 3 dollar raise in the price and failed negotiation, we were off. The ride their was exciting and was added by the fact that we saw a dolphin. The first beach stretched for a kilometer, we stopped and collected shells that you no longer find at beaches that are accessible in the least. Next we stopped at beach six, on the way we saw a massive sea eagle catch a fish. Beach six was supposed to be the most beautiful and turned to be the least of the ones we visited. Although it did have a lagoon filled with thousands of hermit crabs. Lastly we stopped at beach 3, This one was the most beautiful. Also about a kilometer all filled with soft white sand. We swam some, and were chased around by the skin burrowing sand fly. On the ride back, we all slept, I even got our driver falling into a short snooze.

That night I ran into Mr. Lef and then we ran into his brother and other driver friends. Drivers generally have the reputation of being the scum of the tourist industry, if you want to shoot guns, buy drugs or get a lady friend for the night, these are the men you visit, then they'll try and overcharge you. I like scum, their interesting. We drank 'wine' into the night, ate squid and dried beef and bullshitted, barely. The wine was more like rice liquor cut with wine to make it bearable.

When I got back my guesthouse owner informed me he had jungle trek leaving the next day. I thought it would be fun and signed up. I woke early and packed my bag, ate breakfast and before we had time for introductions the five in the tour were put on the back of mopeds and we sped off like some strange moped gang. First stop was at the Tha Tai river, I had seen this river before, but it is beautiful. My companions were a French woman, her parents who only spoke French, another American and five guides, none of whom spoke English. Me and the American(Russ) got along well, which was good considering the lack of English speakers.

After a stop at the ranger station we sped down the dirt road, our drivers pushing the underpowered bikes to the limit. first point of interest was a hike into a waterfall. The falls were about 30 feet. I jumped off them once and we hiked farther down stream to a smaller set of falls for lunch, then back to the bikes. After descending into a lush valley then parking into a small clearing we started a grueling hike, which involved high humidity, small rock faces to climb down, a steep game trail and worst of all leeches. They don't hurt or itch or spread disease yet their is something so frustrating about the little fuckers latching on to you. Once at the bottom I pulled three off my foot which had chewed through my now blood soaked sock.

A small excursion revealed a crocodile trail, small cat and deer prints. Then to camp where we were greeted by tea, a dinner of pork sandwiches and some whiskey. After dinner we enjoyed vibrant stars and fire files. Around 8 our guide announced a night hike up the river for animals. This involved hoping along wet rocks in the dark, our guides fishing with a giant blade, a weasel type critter and two snakes, we were told their name was 'Dangerous' as our guides backed away and said 'I no like.'

The hike the next morning was hot, but I thwarted the leaches by dousing my shoes in DEET. We got on our bikes slightly disheveled and headed back to civilization. A great adventure, filled with the wonder of new and untouched places.
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