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Lazy Beach – Koh Rong Samloem

By: Kris McConkey Posted: November-11-2011 in
Photo Credit - Kris Mc Conkey Click for more great photos by Kris
Kris McConkey

We wanted somewhere fairly relaxed at the start of our 3 month trip to unwind after the hectic few weeks we had in the UK prior to our departure. Of all the spots I had researched, Lazy Beach looked like it might be the ticket. A private section of beach, rented from the government and kept tidy by the local staff, wooden bungalows and just a couple of hours boat ride from Sihanoukville on the Cambodian coast.

The owners, Rich and Chris, started the venture about 9 years ago when Rich was travelling with family, managed to get a boat to the island, which only had a couple of Navy installations at that time, and slept on the same stretch of beach he then signed a contract for about a week later.

We started our trek to the island at 8am from Phnom Penh in a taxi, since the $55 to rent one for the 3h trip wasn’t prohibitively expensive and was the only way we stood a chance of making it to the coast in time to catch the once-a-day boat to Lazy Beach which leaves each day ‘around’ 12pm. The earliest bus leaves at 7am and takes at least 5 hours. Our 3 hour expectation turned out to be a 4 hour drive and we made it to the Lazy Beach booking office at exactly 12, having phoned ahead to tell them we were running late and pleading for them to hold the boat for a few minutes.

Despite having had 4 hours to work it out, I am none the wiser as to how Cambodians use the indicators on their cars, since they seem to be on most of the time, regardless of whether they are overtaking or not. This is especially confusing when they spend as much time on the left of the road as the right.

Having followed the weather for a week or two prior, it was pretty obvious that we weren’t going to be getting the stunning fuchsia sunsets I had originally hoped for, with one of the worst monsoon seasons of the past decade hanging around like a dinner guest who you struggle to get rid of at the end of the night. We did get a couple of reasonable days in the end, but not enough to make full use of the hammocks which hang outside each of the 10 or so wooden bungalows, or do any snorkelling.

Our converted fishing boat took a bit of a battering on the journey out, but Kwells, to my amazement, kept sea sickness at bay. We then had to swim the 50m or so to shore while our belongings were packed in large plastic crates and floated to shore by the staff who swam out to greet us.

Most of the visible staff are the sort of people I’ve only heard exist until now. The kind who take a 3 week holiday and end up staying a year and a half, and bring their friends out, who also overstay their original plans by months. Travis, Lyndsay and Kate, however, did a great job of making guests feel welcome, relaxed and at home – to the point it would have probably been difficult for any newcomers to immediately guess who was part of the staff team and who was a guest at times.

The Lazy Beach dogs, Spoon and Boysi, have their own unique quirks too – spending half the day sleeping in the basket chairs and the other half digging deep tunnels in the sand paths that guests can fall into at night.

A few high/lowlights from our 4 days:
Some of the best asian food I’ve ever tasted – especially the pad thai and green chicken curry.

A 5 hour trek to the lighthouse owned by the Cambodian Navy – who have no boats and hitch a ride to the island on the Lazy Beach boat (see map below)
Watching people do the ‘ant dance’ after walking through a bush covered in aggressive ants with a ferocious bite on the above trek. After I had done said dance myself of course – being front of the group at the time

Spotting the giant gecko who lives in the bar as he poked his head out at dinnertime
Not being able to resist grabbing one of the large geckos on our bungalow door and ending up with a couple of spurting puncture wounds
Shredding a toe on a leg of the table tennis table
Jumping out of bed at 3am to clobber a rat with flipflops

We had originally booked 3 nights at Lazy Beach, with the hope of then catching a boat to neighbouring Koh Rong for another 2-3 nights. Rich very kindly put us on the phone to Paddy, the owner of Monkey Island who was happy to try and arrange a boat to pick us up and call back at 7:30 the next morning to let us know one way or the other. With it being one of the major Cambodian holidays, Paddy had a boat but no captain, and the following day a captain and a boat, but poor weather. In the end, we decided to head back to the mainland with 4 nights on Lazy Beach under our belt and bank a couple of extra days to spend elsewhere in Cambodia.

Great if
You’re like 99.9% of other people for whom a desert island holds some appeal
You enjoy privacy and seclusion

Bad if
Your idea of paradise includes 24/7 electric, internet and mobile connectivity
You’re allergic to dogs
You can’t find any motion sickness tablets which work for you.

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Published with the kind permission of Kris McConkey who blogs at Smoothimpact.net

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